Almost 20,000 children with special needs deprived of financial support due to under-reported numbers
Srinagar: Close to twenty thousand specially-abled children in J&K might have been deprived of financial benefits last year because of insufficient data collection by the authorities.
For the financial year 2017-18, authorities in the state had “identified” 23,341 specially-abled children or Children with Special Needs (CWSN).
However, official data accessed by Kashmir Reader has revealed that the number of CWSN has almost “doubled” with 43,131 specially-abled children identified by officials of Inclusive Education (IE), a flagship programme of the erstwhile Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) in the current financial year.
Although 37,419 of the 43,131 CWSN have been enrolled in government and private schools in the state, only 22,575 such children, roughly half of the identified number, have been approved for financial support, official data has revealed.
Last year, only 13,321 of the 23, 341 identified as CWSN were approved for the funding, while only 17,705 of them were enrolled in government schools as per official figures.
Asked whether the specially-abled children had actually almost “doubled” as revealed by the figures, State Coordinator IE JK, TR Mangotra, told Kashmir Reader that the data collected last year was “unreliable” because technical human resource was not deployed for its collection.
“The data about the specially-abled children was taken directly from schools, which were not aware about the categorisation of such children,” Mangotra said.
In comparison to the number of specially-abled children at all-India level, Mangotra said that last year’s data was “disproportionate”.
Realising that last year’s data was “not reliable”, Mangotra said, the IE did a comprehensive “door-to-door survey” to find the actual number.
“The survey was done over a month. We deployed 3,618 general line teachers and 201 data entry operators who worked directly under the supervision of as many Zonal Education Officers,” he informed.
Mangotra said that 28 resource teachers, who worked under the guidance of Chief Education Officers, were the nodal officers for the survey.
“Some children suffering from mental illnesses and even autism were passed off as normal by schools during the data collection last year. We have identified such children this year, which is why the number of CWSN has increased,” he said.
Mangotra informed that Rs 7 crore and above Rs 2 crore had been approved for CWSN at the elementary and secondary levels, respectively, by the Government of India under the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan this financial year.
The funding for this year, he said, had been approved “on the basis of the new data” which they collected through the survey.