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All Maharashtra study highlights how schools overlooks special needs kids

Be it Braille tools, trained special teachers or wheelchairs, schools across the state of Maharashtra are failing children with special needs.

This is according to a study by the Maharashtra RTE Forum, a platform of education networks in the state. The forum looked at how parameters were being met under the Right to Education Act (RTE) when it comes to kids with special needs.

The study, done across 184 schools found that the children with special needs were ignored. The study was done by 23 organizations and NGOs working in the field of education. It found that children with special needs are regularly attending schools, but that the teachers visiting these schools to teach them do not meet the basic requirements as laid down under the RTE Act.

The government is also failing to check if these schools are following the guidelines laid down under the Act.

The basics are missing. The basic awareness among policymakers, teachers, and all the departments working in the field is missing. What kind of teachers do we have? If they don't know sign language or how to use the assistive technology given, what's the point? Who are you certifying as a teacher or therapist? Also the courses have to be relevant and up-to-date, not archaic. - Anita Iyer, Founder-Managing Trustee, EKansh Trust

An IndiaSpend study in 2017 has highlighted how this is not just a Maharashtra problem. The study said that despite the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (Education for All Movement), which promotes free and compulsory education for all children between the 6-14 years, children with special needs form the largest out-of-school group in India.

According to the 2014 National Survey of Out of School Children report, about six lakh, which is 28% of special-needs children in this age group are put of school.

Clearly, there is a need for a new mindset among not just among policymakers, but also teachers and trainers and even training institutes to ideate on policies and programmes that work to integrate children with special needs with the mainstream.

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