Delhi government to issue guidelines for teaching disabled students in private schools
The Directorate of Education, Delhi government has been asked to issue separate guidelines for private unaided recognised schools in the national capital. This is to ensure that disabled students are taught in an inclusive manner in keeping with provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act.
Inclusive education in the complete sense is a distant reality in India over three years after the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act. The best of schools practice integration, not inclusion. Integration expects disabled students to adapt to the system. Inclusion, mandated by law, ensures the system adapts to each student.
Delhi parent Shailja Sharma highlighted this truth in her complaint against the Airforce Golden Jubilee institute (AFGJI). She said that disabled students at AFGJI did not have access to qualified teachers in subjects like art and craft, computer and music. Instead, disabled students were given part-time teachers and a speech therapist who also taught them computers.
Disabled students sidelined in most schools
Shailja pointed out that this was in violation of Section 16 of RPWD Act that mandates equal opportunities for disabled students. The matter was taken up by the office of the Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Delhi government.
For decades schools practiced segregation towards disabled children. The earlier system of integration was considered to be good. Now we know better and the law also says disabled students have to be taught in the same classroom as non-disabled students with special educators helping to create an inclusive environment. – T D Dhariyal, Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Delhi government.
AFGJI was practising integration not inclusion. “Disabled students were not getting the same opportunities as others. All children have different needs and different ways of learning and this must be provided for”, says Mr Dhariyal.
Larger awareness about inclusion in all Delhi schools
The Commissioner’s office has taken up this issue in a bigger way. The Directorate of Education (DoE), Delhi government has been directed to issue a notification to all private unaided recognised schools on the guidelines for an inclusive education system. Government schools were also issued a similar notification earlier. “In light of the inadequate awareness and understanding of the system of inclusive education, DoE should take steps to mandate every Principal, Head of School and the key functionaries of the management to be trained on the provisions for inclusive education”.
A report on the action taken will be filed three months. A measure that will hopefully ensure disabled students are treated as less than equal.