Education Bill ignores disabled children: Experts

Draft dilutes their fundamental rights


Experts said the bill, now in Parliament, has taken recourse to “tokenism” when it comes to educating differently abled children, especially from poor families. Adding a few ramps in schools is the only provision it contains to deal with the issue, they pointed out.
 
“How does a disabled child from a poor family reach school? The Right to Education Bill, 2008, is just a token gesture to dilute the fundamental rights of such children to education and nutrition,” Anita Ghai, Reader, Department of Psychology, University of Delhi, told Deccan Herald. “We have at present approximately 30 million disabled children and out of them only 20 per  cent get proper education,” she said.

Maintaining that disability is never identified as the core issue to be addressed, Ghai said education should be considered all the more crucial for differently abled children as it helps them to lead an independent life.

Even though there has been an increasing number of disabled children getting access to education, the meagre annual amount of Rs 1,200 allocated per child in the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan programme to improve infrastructure would pose limitations for disabled children, she said. Ghai also pointed out that no provision had been made for imparting special training on pedagogy for teaching differently-abled children.

A recent report brought out by Human Rights Law Network –– where a number of experts including eminent educationist Anil Sadgopal have identified the grey areas in the bill –– said this was the UPA government’s last chance to take back the bill, engage in consultations and make necessary changes to salvage education.

According to Sadgopal, the bill legitimised inequality and discrimination through a multi-layered school system, excluded children below six years and denied the right to secondary and senior secondary education.

He also pointed out that the bill contained “subtle” provisions that excluded disabled children from schools and confined them to special schools or home-based education.

“The bill contains provisions that enable shifting of public funds to private schools, leaves private unaided schools unregulated to indulge in profiteering and neglects mother tongue as a medium of education,” he said.

Testing times

*Adding a few ramps in schools is the only provision the bill contains
*Annual amount of Rs 1,200 allocated per child in the SSA to improve infrastructure would pose limitations
* No provision for imparting special training on pedagogy
* The bill leaves private unaided schools unregulated to indulge in profiteering

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