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CBSE to introduce new set of guidelines & policies for children with learning disabilities

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is all set to draft guidelines and policies for children with learning disabilities. Parents and experts working who work in disability space feel that this is going to be a great move since it promotes an inclusive environment. The child will also receive individual care and attention which will help them to do well in academics and other extra curricular activities.

For 10-year-old Natasha*(name changed), getting enrolled into a prominent educational institution in Bengaluru was the start of a cycle of anxiety and stress. After her teachers expressed unhappiness at her academic outcomes, she was tested and diagnosed with dyslexia, a learning disability. She now gets individual care and attention and is coping better.

Like Natasha, many kids with learning disabilities struggle to cope in mainstream set ups. Their plight has come in for some attention from the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), which is set to introduce specific guidelines and policies for children with disabilities. These will be implemented in the over 20,000 schools across India that comes under the syllabus.

Experts say that many teachers and concerned authorities lack awareness as a result of which children go un-diagnosed for a long time. They spend many years neglected and sidelined in classrooms and many, with time, drop out.

The CBSE says its new policies aim to end this isolation and make classrooms more inclusive. Experts have started working on drafting the policies.

Seema Lal of the Kerala parent support group TogetherWeCan, says the first step towards creating an inclusive school environment must be to stop categorising children as 'abled' or 'disabled'.

Exam accommodations must be made available for every child depending on what the teachers and external competent authorities assesses. The trouble with diagnostic models is that we often focus on the deficits and forget to look at the child's strengths. Success in school examinations merely reflects how much the child can remember and express in writing the last three or four hours at the end of the school year. This hardly indicates true education. Teacher training and parent empowerment must be made mandatory. Inclusion can happen only if stakeholders work together-Seema Lal, Co-founder, TogetherWeCan

The new policies will focus on inclusive classrooms, exam patterns and infrastructure. Teachers, who play a crucial role in the development of the child, will be given special sessions on how to empower them. Special educators will be introduced in all CBSE schools and the curriculum will be modified to suit the needs of children with learning disabilities.

"The CBSE has always worked towards creating an inclusive environment", believes Manju Subramanian, Principal, Delhi Public School, Bengaluru North.. "It includes all the 21 disabilities mentioned in the RPWD Act, 2016 along with other learning disabilities like dyslexia, dyscalculia and so on. Certain subjects can be exempted for students who finds it hard to learn it. The guidelines have been there for a long time. There is software for visually impaired students as well and the board has always been supportive".

Experts say that CBSE officials started realising the impact of the lack of inclusive education after the results of the board exams over the last couple of years. Even after the RPWD Act, 2016, nothing substantial has been done till date.

Much depends on the will power of officials who implement this", says Lakshmi Ramachandran, a mentor with a leading CBSE school in Kochi. "Times have changed and the world is becoming more inclusive. Even fashion designers are starting to model their clothes on children with disabilities. So it is high time that students learn the need of being in an inclusive environment".

Also Read: Malayalam writer Subhash Chandran slammed for insensitive comments about kids with autism

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