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Kerala government’s upcoming inclusive university gets thumbs up from disability rights groups

The government of Kerala is all set to start an inclusive university where people with disabilities are going to be offered courses, job placements and rehabilitation services. The news was confirmed by the state government who are currently working on submitting the report to central government to implement this at the earliest.

The government of Kerala have always been pioneers in spearheading projects for people with disabilities. Over the past few years, officials have been working on a handful of initiatives to support disabled people in the state. In a welcome move, the state government is all set to start a university where demands, needs and requirements of people from the disabled community will be given utmost importance. First-of-its-kind in India, this upcoming university will have people with all kinds of disabilities, including physical and intellectual, where their rehabilitation, research and higher studies will be taken care for.

The office of KK Shailaja, Minister of Health and Social Welfare of Kerala State has already confirmed the news. Reportedly, the state minister's office will send details to the central government by early next year so that the university can kick-start soon. There will be various exclusive courses for people with disabilities that will help to make them self-reliant and independent.

Biju Prabhakar, Special Secretary in charge of the social justice department, Dr MKC Nair, Vice-Chancellor of Kerala University of Health Sciences and Babu Georhe, Director, Child Development Centre Director are the team who will be submitting a detailed report within the next three months.

We can reveal more about the upcoming university only after detailed discussions with state secretariat officials which is scheduled to happen in the next few days. The government is keen on starting this initiative and also wants it to be done at the earliest. All kinds of disabilities will be covered in this project-Dr MKC Nair, Vice-Chancellor, Kerala University of Health and Sciences.

Initially, the state government had planned to convert the National Institute of Speech and Hearing (NISH) in Trivandrum as one of the centres for rehabilitation for people with disabilities, but it was later dropped. The central government did not approve for this bill either. "This is going to be an inclusive university where people with and without disabilities are going to come under one roof. But there will be a lot of exclusive projects for the disabled community unlike in no other educational institutions. There are many apex centres working across Kerala that empowers disabled people and all this will come together. The university will create manpower to handle people with disabilities, provide technical inputs needed for further study and also work on creating an inclusive society. We will identify skills of each person with a disability and work on enhancing their talents and skills and also provide them with courses", says Dr Mohammed Assheel, Executive Director, Kerala Social Security Mission.

Reportedly, the upcoming university will be built in over 50 acres of land and will be close to the NISH Trivandrum campus. All the degree and post-graduate courses at NISH will be shifted to the upcoming university as well, according to reports.

The government has also assured that there will be exclusive courses for people with intellectual disabilities, blind and deaf people and those with neurological disabilities as well. Exclusive campus placements and rehabilitation services will also be offered. "Hopefully, this university will benefit many people from the disabled community and it is definitely going to be a big step towards inclusion. There are many brilliant kids with a disability but are denied opportunities. They can all come to the forefront. I understand that all the people who are involved in this project are committed and dedicated and we hope this will be introduced without further delay", says Sangeetha John, parent of a 17 year old daughter with autism.

Also Read: Kerala government drafts guidelines, ahead of implementing RPWD 2016 Act

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