Education September 16, 2020
TN disability rights group Ektha moves Supreme Court over Class 10 board exams
Class 10 board exams for disabled students studying privately in Tamil Nadu are set to begin next week. The State Education Board shows no signs of backing down on what is an obviously discriminatory decision despite protests across different cities. Ektha, a prominent disabled people’s organisation in the state, has filed a petition in the Supreme Court on the matter.
“Unacceptable risk to disabled candidates for board exams”. That’s the crux of the petition filed in the Supreme Court of India by Ektha, a prominent disabled people’s organisation (DPO) in Tamil Nadu.
Ektha has moved the apex court after repeated appeals on behalf of parents and affected disabled candidates did not lead to any change in position on the part of the State Education Department in Tamil Nadu.
Ektha, along with Disability Rights Alliance India (DRAI), parents and affected children had earlier filed a petition in the Madras High Court. However, the court did not issue an order calling for the exams to be called off.
Exams discriminatory & risky
Ektha’s petition in the Supreme Court asks that the disabled candidates be passed based on their attendance and internal assessment marks. It says that the exemption is ‘logical and moral’ given the extension of exemption granted by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) to government employees from duty given that they are highly vulnerable to the coronavirus infection.
Government employees with disabilities are allowed to work from home The same government wants students with disabilities to risk their lives to write the examination. Even courts and judges are opting for virtual hearings because of the risk. How fair is it? – Rajiv Rajan, General Secretary, NGO Ektha
Appearing on Ektha’s behalf will be Supreme Court advocate Sanchita Ain. It’s not clear when the matter will come up but time is running out for many children with practical exams scheduled in two days’ time.
“The whole thing has reached this stage because insensitivity on the part of everyone involved, starting with the mainstream schools”, Rajan points out. This is because many schools, including government-run ones, refuse to teach disabled children after class eight. “They chuck them out after that because they are looking for cent percent results in public examinations. That is how many of students with disabilities become private candidates. They are being asked to write the board exam”.
The move is especially risky given that they are immuno-compromised.
Parents pray for justice
Meanwhile, in Tiruchirappalli, Malathi Balakrishnan, whose husband R Balakrishnan had filed the petition in the Madras High Court, hopes the Supreme Court will finally deliver the justice countless parents and disabled candidates are praying for. Many parents, including Malathi, have decided to boycott the exams is the court does not rule in their favour.
“This is a decision that not affect Vignesh alone but thousands of disabled candidates”, says Malathi, whose son has cerebral palsy. “I will not risk exposing my son to a pre exam Covid test given his condition. His hall ticket has come, and the exam centre is 10-12 kilometres away. There are disabled students whose exam centres are 40-50 kilometres away from their homes. I pray the court sees the justice in our appeal.”
- No Covid tests, shorter duration papers among key demands of disabled students appearing privately for TN Class 10 board exams
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