Education December 28, 2020
Proposal to set up University of Disability Studies & Rehabilitation Sciences “ill-advised”, say groups
The central government has proposed the setting up up a “first of its kind” university covering the entire range of disability studies and rehabilitation sciences in an accessible environment. A public notice has been issued in this regard and stakeholders have been asked to comment. The move has been slammed as a poorly conceived one by the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled.
A ‘first of its kind’ multidisciplinary academic institution conducting research, programmes and courses covering the “entire gamut of disability studies and rehabilitation sciences in an accessible environment”.
These are the words from a public notice issued by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, that proposes to establish a University of Disability Studies and Rehabilitation Sciences in Kamrup district in Assam through a separate act of Parliament.
Mere 9-day deadline slammed
“The proposed university will have eight departments viz disability studies, rehabilitation sciences, audiology and speech language pathology, special education, psychology, nursing, orthotics and prosthetics and assistive technology, and inclusive and universal design”, says the notification and add that the programmes will “adopt a credit and grading system”with affiliation to other institutions in disabilities and rehabilitation sciences in the country.
The DEPwD has invited comments from the public by 3 January 2021, that’s nine days from the date of the notification.
The mere nine-day deadline is just one among many reasons why the move has been slammed by prominent disabled rights body National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD). “As with other legislations and policy matters, the pandemic situation is being misused by the government to rush through another ill-conceived idea, denying adequate time or space for stakeholders to respond. In this case, a mere nine days have been given to elicit response to a 131-page document, said the NPRD statement.
It also questions the basis for setting up such a centre,
Step goes against RPWD Act
One of the stated objects of the University is “to train and develop professionals, researchers and educators in disability studies and rehabilitation sciences. That there is a clear distinction between disability studies and rehabilitation sciences is lost. Disability studies is an academic discipline that examines the meaning, nature, and consequences of disability, as opposed to rehabilitation, which is a process aimed at enabling the disabled to reach and maintain their optimal physical, sensory, intellectual, psychological and social functional levels leading to their independence. – National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled
While the need to promote disability studies as a discipline is one of the mandates of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, the Act also calls upon the government to promote research in disability studies including establishment of study centres in all universities. “It also talks about inducting “disability as a component for all education courses for schools, colleges, university teachers, doctors, nurses………” etc.” points out the NPRD.
Rather than wasting huge amounts of money on segregated centres of learning, the NPRD says it would be better for the government to adhere to the guiding principles of the RPWD Act of equality and non-discrimination and promote an inclusive, multidisciplinary approach.
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