Education August 21, 2020
Class 10 board exams – No relief for children with disabilities in Tamil Nadu
The Tamil Nadu state education board has gone ahead and released the Class 10 board exam schedule for students appearing privately. This is despite widespread protests and appeals from parents of children with disabilities who are most affected.
Unmoved by the appeals of parents from across the state, the Tamil Nadu state education board has announced that Class 10 board exams for students appearing privately will be held from 21 to 26 September.
This has caused huge dismay among parents of children with disabilities in particular. They are asking why their children are being discriminated against when all regular school-going Class X students have been passed.
State government about turn affects disabled students
The state government had first postponed the board exams. Later they were declared cancelled given the health risks posed by Covid. The about turn for children in private schools has come as a complete shock
“My son Emmanuel Jacob has mild autism and mental retardation (MR)”, says Joseph Sahayarajan from Tiruchirapalli. “The government says it will provide scribes to our children for the exams but what about the risks to health? Are our children not vulnerable?”
Joseph is deeply worried as Emmanuel is uncomfortable in face masks. “He refuses to wear once even when we step out of the house for a few minutes. How will be wear one for three hours?’
All the parents want is for their children to be given pass marks. “Just give them the minimum marks and let them pass. That’s all we want”, adds Joseph.
Covid threat a major concern
Malathi Balakrishnan, whose son Vignesh has cerebral palsy, has similar concerns. Her son’s school has written to the State Disability Commissioner seeking immediate intervention.
“The state government and local media are completely indifferent to this issue”, says Malathi, who along with 20 parents in Tiruchirapalli submitted petitions to the Collectorate and Chief Education Officer (CEO) for their children to be passed. “This is nothing but harassment”.
The matter has been taken up by many disability rights groups and activists in Chennai but there has been no response. Rajiv Rajan, Co-founder, Ekta Foundation says the state government’s decision will affect nearly 10,000 students in Tamil Nadu.
Many students with disabilities use services of a scribe to write the examination. Many students also have speech difficulty making it impossible to wear a mask while dictating answers to the scribe. All this will make social distancing impossible. We are looking at approximately 10,000 students with disabilities writing the exam at the least. This means that we are putting that many lives at risk. – Rajiv Rajan, Co-founder, Ekta Foundation
Children with disabilities denied mainstream education
The move becomes even more callous when you consider the larger discrimination at work.
“Most of these students are a part of special schools because they were denied admission in mainstream schools due to their disabilities”, points out Rajan. “It is an irony that students with disabilities who go to special schools are forced to write board exams as private candidates when their non-disabled counterparts are not writing the board examinations just because they go to a mainstream schools which deny admission to students with disabilities. How fair is this?”
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