Schools face paucity of special educators

Schools face paucity of special educators

Lack of well-trained and experienced special educators has posed a challenge for children with special needs who hope to study in mainstream schools.

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) recently issued a circular reiterating its earlier rule that it was mandatory for affiliated schools to appoint special educators to ensure quality education for children with disabilities and special needs.

Sima Bhushan, learning disability consultant and founder of Learning Arc, appreciated CBSE’s reminder, but said implementation would require monitoring.

“I work with several schools in the city and there are many reputed ones which are not doing anything to become inclusive. Some that do have special educators are not able to identify and diagnose learning disabilities correctly,” she said. In many cases, parents whose children have been diagnosed with learning disability do not submit the report to the school, fearing discrimination, Sima said. 

“There is better awareness about learning disabilities, so things are improving. However, there is a huge gap in availability of resources, especially in smaller private schools,” Sima  said.

Parents prefer to admit their children to mainstream schools because they want their
children to get equal opportunities.

“Parents don’t want their children to be discriminated against. Being in a mainstream school also helps the child become independent and adopt to society,” said Juhi Ramani, who runs I Support Foundation (ISF), an NGO for betterment of autistic children and adults. A decade ago, Juhi found it difficult to find a mainstream school which would accept her autistic brother. Things have, however, improved now, she says.

 “These days schools are at least accepting children with special needs. Some have special educators, but I don’t know how good they are,”  she said. 

The biggest challenge schools face is hiring qualified resource persons. “There is a huge demand for special educators, but there are very few trained ones. Many prefer to start private practice because it pays handsomely,” said Manju Balasubramanyam, principal of Delhi Public School (North).

In her school, there are four special educators who work closely with class teachers, helping them prepare learning material based on the needs of the children.

Training teachers, parents

“To support special educators, we have trained 57 of our teachers in identifying children with special needs. Even parents are encouraged to come to school and take part in their child’s learning so that they can replicate the model at home,” she said. The principal said, with CBSE and NCERT pushing for inclusive schools, more people may enter the field of special education.
DH News Service

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