Young lives left to flicker out of neglect

February 20th, 2008 - 10:46 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Taare Zameen Par
(Feature)
By Kanu Sarda
New Delhi, Feb 20 (IANS) Azad, 11, and Nuruddin, 8, are deaf and dumb. They go to school every day. They learn nothing. Their teachers have no idea how to teach them. Chandu, 10, is mentally retarded. His school does not know his medical history. He has one textbook and one exercise book in his schoolbag. After 10 months in the same class, the exercise book is blank.

Aamir Khan’s superhit “Taare Zameen Par” has made many aware of the needs of special children, but has left the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) unmoved.

Azad and Nuruddin attend the MCD school in C Block of Jehangirpuri in northwest Delhi. Chandu goes to another MCD school in H Block.

The state of the children with special needs came to light when members of the Right to Education Task Force (RETF), an initiative by NGO Social Jurist, visited some of the MCD schools.

“Class teachers of Azad and Nuruddin candidly admit that they do not know how to teach these students as they have never been given any training in this regard,” says Ashok Aggarwal, lawyer, social activist and RETF member.

Class teachers of both have passed the Elementary Teacher Education course from the Haryana District Institute of Education Training.

The school principal says disabled students should be only in special schools, an outdated idea that has now proved to be damaging to these students.

The MCD runs 1,854 primary schools in the national capital. The RETF survey shows 2-3 children with special needs in each.

“We know that some special children are studying in our schools but the real problem lies with the curriculum. We have made a recommendation to the Delhi government’s education department to consider necessary changes in the syllabus for the teachers,” says Prithiraj Sahni, chairperson of MCD’s Education Department.

Meanwhile, the government is flouting its own law. “According to the law, every school should be barrier free and equipped with all necessary facilities to make the campus disabled-friendly,” says Aggarwal. No MCD school is, he adds.

“The failure on the part of the authorities to provide quality education, attention and care to the children with disabilities tantamount to violation of fundamental and human right to education of all such children as guaranteed to them under Articles 14 (right to equality), 21 (right to life with dignity) and 21-A (right to education) read with the provisions of Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995,” says Aggarwal.

RETF will soon submit a report on its visits to the Delhi High Court.

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