‘Determined to ensure every child with disability has access to quality education’, says Nagaland State Disability Commissioner
At a time when Tamil Nadu is singling out children with disabilities by forcing them to sit for board exams despite the pandemic, comes this positive step towards inclusive education thanks to the efforts of State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Diethono Nakhro.
All schools in Nagaland, recognised and registered by the state government will henceforth provide inclusive education to children with disabilities.
Two key provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act 2016 have come into effect in the state thanks to the efforts of its State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Diethono Nakhro.
“These are the provisions under Section 16 and Section 31 of the RPwD Act 2016” said Nakhro to NewzHook. “The executive notification has been issued by the state government and comes into effect immediately. It is for all schools, including privately run schools, that are recognised and registered by the state government”.
What this means
- Children with disabilities will be given admission without discrimination and offered education and opportunities for activities equally with others.
- Facilities like the building, campus, etc to be made accessible.
- Provided reasonable accommodation according to the child’s needs.
- Provided necessary support individualised or otherwise in environments enable maximum academic and social development.
- Education to persons who are blind or deaf or both is imparted in the most appropriate languages and modes and means of communication.
- Specific learning disabilities in children to be detected at the earliest followed by suitable measures to overcome them.
- Monitor participation and progress in terms of attainment levels.
- Provide transportation facilities and attendant for children with high support needs.
It also makes it incumbent upon the authorities to ensure that every child with benchmark disability has access to free education in an appropriate environment till the age of 18 years.
This is the first time that such a step has been taken towards education of children with disabilities in Nagaland and that makes it significant. But Nakhro is also aware of the challenges that lie ahead.
To be brutally honest, the disability sector was totally neglected through the years and so we are badly lacking in all areas, including education. Almost all schools, both government and private, lack even basic infrastructure and are not equipped at all to meet the needs of disabled children, whether its physical accessibility, accessibility of the curriculum or availability of trained teachers. – Diethono Nakhro, State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Nagaland
The State Education Department itself is yet to put the necessary processes in place for inclusive education. A modified curriculum to meet the needs of students with disabilities is yet to be brought out. Above, all awareness remains a challenge. “Understanding of inclusive education is poor and much work needs to be done here too”, adds Nakhro.
The Disability Commissioner’s office is working closely with the School Education Department to address these gaps.
There are plans to address the shortfall of trained teachers and special educators through Teacher Training Programmes. “All teachers need to be trained to give support to students with disabilities if we want inclusive education to be successful. Education is not a privilege. It is a fundamental human right”, adds Nakhro.
The move is especially commendable in a state that is located remotely and has a history of militancy, says Arman Ali, Executive Director, National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP).
“Nagaland’s literacy rate is 81% and this step of recognising the fundamental rights of students with disabilities is a forthcoming sign”, says Ali. “The credit goes to the Disability Commissioner who is a person with disability and has been very grounded and connected with the community. That was also evident in the steps taken to reach out to people with disabilities during the coronavirus pandemic like sign language interpretation services, etc”.
This move comes at a time when one of India’s most prosperous states Tamil Nadu is pressurising children with disabilities in private schools to sit for their board exams despite the coronavirus risk. Nagaland’s step towards building a truly inclusive education system gives one hope.
- ‘Strongly urge students to take board exams’ – TN government refuses to relent on exams for disabled students
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