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Special Educators Forum-India demands separate national education policy for children with disabilities

The Special Educators Forum-India has demanded a separate education policy for children and people with disabilities on the grounds that the new draft National Education Policy fails to address the needs of the community.

Slamming the draft National Education Policy (NEP) for failing to address the needs of children with disabilities, the Special Educators' Form - India (SEFI) has asked the Centre to frame a separate policy for the community.

The draft NEP has been criticised by many leading disability groups as regressive and undemocratic. The National Platform for the Rights of Disabled (NPRD) had previously criticised it for "lacking a rights-based approach" and said it "reinforced the traditional method of viewing disability".

Not only is the draft oblivious to the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) which India ratified, it fails to take cognisance of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.

According to the Ministry of Human Resources Development's own data, the highest number of out of school children, are children with disabilities. In the year 2014, the figure for this group was 28.07% but the NEP draft does not lay down any concrete measures to increase the enrolment of disabled children. On the contrary, the policy proposes to do away with the 25% reservation for marginalised sections provided for in the Right to Education (RTE) Act. - Kalpagiri Srinu, National Convenor, Special Educators' Forum-India

Key demands

After extensive consultations the SEFI has come up with a set of 25 recommendations. Some of these are:

  • Amend the RTE Act in line with RPWD Act 2016 to implement inclusive education at all levels.
  • Governments at the states and Centre should recognise the importance of a broader concept of inclusive education to address diverse needs of all learners.
  • Ensure mandatory recruitment of Special Educators for every school where children with disabilities are enrolled.
  • Implement the law of practicing without a Rehabilitation Council of India registration as an offence.
  • Frame a separate National Policy on Education for children with disabilities.
  • Prepare teachers to address diverse needs of children with disabilities.
  • School-based support team should develop to meet needs of children with disabilities.
  • Set up a rehabilitation wing for inclusive education as a nodal agency under the MHRD to fill academic gaps in qualitative implementation of inclusive education.

It's not just the needs of children with disabilities that the draft NEP fails to address, points out disability rights activist Shampa Sengupta. "Intersections of gender, disability, urban poverty or rural backgrounds bring in different dimensions in the lives of disabled students. The holistic approach is completely missing from the NEP. Bypassing the needs and demands of such a huge group of people will not make India a knowledge superpower which the Ministry claims to aim at".

ALSO READ:Karnataka disability commissioner cracks down on school charged with abuse of child with autism

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