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Odisha government pulls up district schools for failing inclusion measures

District level authorities in Odisha have been slacking in making the elementary schools accessible for students with disabilities.

Time and again the state government has asked the district education departments to take steps to make government elementary schools inclusive. However, there has been no report filed about progress made in this regard.

The Odisha Primary Education Programme Authority (OPEPA) has now issued a final reminder and asked schools be made inclusive by 2020 with a report about the actions taken.

The Right to Education Act (RTE) calls for equal opportunities in education for children in India. The Act aims to safeguard the future of children by ensuring they have access to free and compulsory education irrespective of their social and environmental settings.

It also mandates inclusive education for children with disabilities. This means schools need to be made accessible so that children with all types of disabilities can attend classes and move around in the campus.

If the changes are not made at the grassroot level, children will not get quality education and a chance to lead better lives. The government at the Centre has set a target to make all elementary level schools in India 100% accessible and inclusive by the year 2020.

However, the sheer lack of efficiency and commitment towards execution of the RTE at the district levels is appalling.

There is much that needs to be done in government schools to make them inclusive. However, most schools only have ramps and no other facilities for students with disabilities. - Mihir Mohanty, NGO Swabhiman

A school needs to offer a wide range of facilities and structural accommodations to become accessible. Like wider doors, ramps, rails, lifts, and accessible toilets are some basic requirements for a premises or building to become useable for people with disabilities.

Smriti is associated with NGO Aaina and says if implemented RTE Act can be a game changer.

"If implemented correctly, the RTE can change the lives of disabled children by giving them the light of knowledge, so schools should be inclusive so that children with disabilities can go there and learn."

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