Special education schools need special attention

Special education schools need special attention

There are only two centres to train special educators, one each in Bangalore and Mangalore, to cater to about 3.27 lakh disabled people aged below 19 years and 206 special schools in the State. The number of teachers is far less than required and affects the implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act which calls for universal and inclusive education.

According to the Association for Special Educators and Staff, there are only an estimated 1,500-2,000 special teachers /educators in the State, against more than 10,000 in Maharashtra and a comparative number in Tamil Nadu. Worse, many of them have left the profession or may be on the verge  of leaving, thanks to the Government apathy in addressing the needs of such teachers and schools. Karnataka has a total of 9.40 lakh disabled people. According to statistics furnished by Women and Child Development Minister Narendraswamy to the Legislative Council last month, 1,25,281 disabled children are being educated under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. About 15,600 study at the anganawadi centres and 15,000 in the 206 special schools in the State.

Association Joint Secretary Umesh, however, says the number of people with disability in Karnataka is much more than what the Government claims. Karnataka State Policy for Disabled and Senior Citizens states that at least six per cent of the State’s population is in the disabled category. By that yardstick, the number of disabled in the State should be 36 lakh, a good chunk of whom fall below the age group of 19. Some activists believe that even if one were to go by the government figures there must be at least 3,000 odd schools.

Narendraswami, in his reply to a query in the Council, said the Government has allocated Rs 10 crore for the encouragement of special schools and teachers for the year 2010-11.
That, however, is less than the provision of Rs 20 crore made in the budget, and far lower compared to the neighbouring Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. According to the minister, the State pays Rs 3,800-Rs 6,900 as honorarium to special teachers in 30 State-aided institutions. Of the 206 schools, teachers at 95 Centre-aided institutes also get honorarium. Those in the other institutions are paid a pittance, with many getting the grants only twice a year.

Statistics

-  State-run special schools: 8
-  State-aided special schools: 30
-  Centre-aided special schools: 95
- Self-financed special schools: 73

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