'Ensure adequate financial allocation in edu budgets'

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A UNESCO-sponsored study has painted a dismal picture of the current status of education of children with disabilities in India and called for addressing their needs “sufficiently” with better legal framework and policy initiatives.

The study noted that a significant proportion of such children continue to remain out of school and the drop out rate of those enrolled is increasing every year.

The report, released under the aegis of Unesco here on Wednesday, highlighted several “barriers” to inclusive education to special children. It made 10 key recommendations, which included an amendment to the Right to Education Act, 2009 “to better align” it with the Right to Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act, 2016 to fill the gaps.

The report called for “harmonisation” of domestic laws to the “normative provisions” of international treaties, declarations and political commitments, observing that India has made “partial progress” in it.

“Ensure specific and adequate financial allocation in education budgets,” it also recommended. An estimated 78 lakh children aged under 19 live with a disability.

“Among 5-year-olds with disabilities, three-fourths do not go to any educational institution. Nor do one-fourth of children with disability (CWD) population (nearly 65.73 lakh) aged between 5 and 19. The number of children enrolled in school drops significantly with each successive level of schooling,” the State of Education Report for India 2019 (Children with Disability) noted.

While the proportion of the CWD, who are out of school, is “much higher” than the overall proportion of out-of-school children at the national level, there are “fewer” girls with disabilities in school than boys.

“Thus, although the schemes and programmes have brought CWN into schools, the gap remains,” the report added.

The Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) conducted the study and prepared the 150-page report in close coordination with the Unesco. Pitching for “better” alignment of The RTE Act with the RPWD Act, the report noted that though they provide “a comprehensive legal framework” for inclusive education, there are a few ambiguities about where the CWD should study and who should teach them.

“Gaps remain in the form of appropriate norms and standards applicable to all educational institutions, services provided to CWDs, and the absence of a coordinated authority to enforce the norms and standards,” it added.

The operationalisation of legal provisions occurs primarily through the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) but the implementation of the scheme through a coordinated effort, as envisioned, was yet to be operationalised, the report noted.

The report recommended the establishment of a coordinating mechanism under the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry for “effective convergence” of all education programmes of the CWD.

While the CWD continues to face difficulties in seeking in admission in private schools, even under the 25% quota for economically weaker sections, there are evidence of school principals and teachers suggesting that such children enrol in special schools or avail home-based education or attend school only on days when the resource teacher is available, the report added.

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