Education September 18, 2020
‘Strongly urge students to take board exams’ – TN government refuses to relent on exams for disabled students
The Tamil Nadu State Education Board shows no signs of taking back its decision to conduct Class 10 board exams for disabled students studying in private schools. A meeting between parents and the State Disability Commissioner was held last evening in Chennai.
Tense and anxious times for parents and Class 10 students with disabilities studying in private schools in Tamil Nadu.
There are less than three days to go for the Class 10 board exams to begin and appeals and petitions to the State Education Board and the State Disability Commissioner to take back the decision to conduct them have gone unheard.
A meeting was held between Thiru Johny Tom Varghese, Director, Welfare of Differently Abled, Tamil Nadu with parents and heads of schools for disabilities in Chennai on Thursday evening to discuss the matter. Disability rights groups put forth various demands, some of which were granted but the government stance remains that students must be strongly urged to take the exams.
Exams to start on 21 September
Among the demands made by disability rights groups, Ektha and Disability Rights Alliance India (DRAI) at the meeting was that disabled students be allowed to write the exams in their own homes. The State Education Department rejected this on the grounds of ‘too much logistics’.
“A disabled student in Dindigul has his exam centre in Chennai”, pointed out Rajiv Rajan, Co-founder, Ektha. “They are expecting the student to travel from there to here because the education department can’t handle logistics!”.
One of the main anxieties parents and children have is over the mandated pre exam Covid test. A risk that many parents do not want to expose their children to given that people with disabilities are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus infection. At the meeting, the Disability Commissioner said that the Covid test would not be made mandatory.
Initially the Disability Commissioner was adamant about our children undergoing a pre exam Covid test. Later he relented and said our children can take the exam without the test. He said that if our children are prevented from entering the centre for this reason, we can call a disability coordination helpline for help. – Malathi Balakrishnan, Parent of disabled candidate
Exam centres to be set up within special schools
Another possibility offered by the Disability Commissioner is that of exam centres being set up within some schools for children with disabilities.
Parents are being urged and encouraged by the Disability Commissioner’s office to send their children for the exams, says Malathi, whose husband S Balakrishnan had filed the petition in the Madras High Court urging for the cancellation. But she is clear that her son Vignesh will take the exams only if the centre is in his school.
“Vignesh’s school is next door and if the centre is at his school, I will take him. Not anywhere else. But there is no question of him taking a pre exam Covid test. If they insist on that, he will not sit for the exam. That we are clear about”.
Disability rights groups are urging parents to evaluate the risks of appearing for the exam before taking a call. With just three days to go, all hopes lie in the Supreme Court where Ektha has filed a petition earlier this week.
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