More focus likely on special children under SSA

Last Updated 04 April 2014, 18:32 IST

The “Home-Based Education” programme for the specially-abled children under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) is all set to be strengthened with new features during the next academic year.

Under the novel scheme, volunteers impart basic life skills to children with severe disability at their houses.
The emphasis is on bringing these children into mainstream. Not all the children identified with disability are covered under the programme. Volunteers are appointed to go to the homes of only those children who are identified with severe disability - children unlikely to be sent to schools.

 Ten categories of health problems including low vision, total blindness and mental retardation are considered under the programme. As a first step towards mainstreaming, these children are taken to “School Readiness Programme Centres” where they interact with other children facing similar problems.

According to the statistics available with the SSA, Karnataka has as many as 1,27,553 children in the age group of 6-14 years with various types of disabilities.

During the academic year 2013-14, 7,315 students were selected for home-based training. Highest number of children were identified in Belgaum (589) followed by Bijapur (558).

Logistics hurdles

However, sources in the SSA said logistic hurdles came in the way of efficient implementation of the programme.

“Parents are given Rs 250 per month as travel expenses to bring the child to the readiness centre, which is not at all adequate. Hence, several children drop out of the programme mid way. The allowance has to be increased to at least Rs 400,”  an official in SSA said on the condition of anonymity.

Poor infrastructure

The teachers in government schools who are not trained to deal with special children, are expected to teach them at the readiness centres. Also, the infrastructure at these centres is not up to mark.

Further, candidates with a basic qualification of SSLC are appointed a volunteers and their remuneration to need to be increased.

The volunteers are expected to visit the homes of special children at least twice a week.

As a solution, it has been planned to increase the travel allowance paid to parents and remuneration for volunteers. The government school teachers will be given intensive training in sign language and other skills required to train special children.

“The training will not be mandatory for all primary teachers, but will be meant for teachers in only those places where there is a need,” the SSA official said.

At present, more than 6,000 teachers across the State are involved with readiness centres. Convergence with the Department of Women and Child Development, apart from roping in doctors at the primary health centres, is also being planned for this academic year, as part of the initiative for strengthening the programme.

In 2011-12, as many as 14,148 children were part of the home-based education programme. According to officials in Education department, at least 5,000 of them are ready to be enrolled into mainstream schools this time.

(Published 04 April 2014, 18:32 IST)

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