Low teacher-pupil ratio plagues special schools

Low teacher-pupil ratio plagues special schools in state

Karnataka’s special schools, 178 in total, have a low teacher-pupil ratio (TPR). According to the centrally sponsored scheme of Inclusive Education of the Disabled at Secondary Stage (IEDSS), special educators should be appointed in the ratio of 1:5 at the secondary level.

There are 21 types of disabilities recognised under Rights of Persons With Disabilities Act (RPWD) and each disability requires skilled teachers to teach students the prescribed syllabus but life skills.

The Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI), in an affidavit submitted to the Delhi High Court, stated that the TPR for special schools envisaged under the scheme for primary is 1:8 and that they are considering the ratio between special teacher and children at the secondary level to 1:5.

But in Karnataka, the teacher-pupil ratio for each disability is very low. For visually challenged, the ratio followed is 1:12, for hearing-impaired, it is 1:10, for intellectually challenged 1:7 and for those with multiple disabilities 1:3.

Officials of the state Directorate of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities and Senior Citizens, however, claim that the state is following the guidelines laid down under Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS) and that it is providing sufficient teachers for children with special needs.

But, according to the DDRS, the teacher-pupil ratio for hearing and speech impaired is supposed to be 1:8 while for visually challenged it provides leeway and mandates a range of 1:8 to 1:15.

K Leelavathi, Director, Disabilities department, told DH, “This criteria is being followed since 1982 and a state-level technical committee with NGOs has to be appointed to improve the ratio.”

This dependence on NGOs is understandable as the state government runs only eight special schools in Karnataka. All other schools are run by NGOs and charitable trusts who get grants from the state.

Kalpagiri Sreenu, National Convener of Special Educators Forum - India, who has worked extensively on education for special children told DH, “The RCI in its affidavit submitted that the ratio should be 1:8 and 1:5 for primary and secondary schools respectively.”

VS Basavaraju, State Commissioner for Disabilities, said, “We have different ratios for different disabilities. As per RPWD, we are working on a ratio that is practical and realistic to the Indian situation.”  However, RPWD that was enacted in 2016 has no mention
of TPR.

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