Give free education to special kids till they turn 18: Centre to states

Give free education to special kids till they turn 18: Centre to states

Give free education to special kids till they turn 18: Centre to states

The Centre has urged all states to ensure that every child with disability must get free education till he or she turns 18.

Referring to the provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disability (RPwD) Act, the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry has also asked the heads of the state education departments to ensure that all schools within their jurisdiction have inclusive classrooms and teaching-learning atmosphere to enable special children to study along with others.

For this, the ministry has asked the states to make "suitable modifications" in the curriculum and examination system to meet the needs of students with disabilities such as giving extra time for completion of the examination paper, facility of scribe or amanuensis, and exemption from second and third language courses.

This comes as complaints against many of the schools denying admission to special children and discriminating against those admitted continue to pour in from different parts of the country despite clear provisions in the RPwD Act to facilitate their education. The revised RPwD Act, 2016, came into effect from April 19.

"The appropriate government and local authorities shall ensure that every child with benchmark disability has access to free education in an appropriate environment till he attains the age of 18 years in a special school or inclusive neighbourhood schools as per his choice," the ministry said in a recent communication to the states, referring to the RPwD Act.

The ministry also asked the states to establish an adequate number of teacher training institutions as well as train and employ teachers, including teachers with disability, who are qualified in sign language, Braille and trained in teaching children with intellectual disability.

It has asked the states to make necessary arrangements also for training of professionals and other staff to support inclusive education at all levels of school education.

Under the RPwD Act, all state governments and the Union territory administrations are required to ensure that such children are provided with books, other learning materials and appropriate assistive devices free of cost up to the age of 18. They are also required to provide scholarships "in appropriate cases" to students with benchmark disability.

"The ministry has requested the states to consider issuing necessary instructions to the authorities and departments concerned to ensure compliance with the provisions of the RPwD Act,"