Board exam jitters: disabled students can call special helplines

February 6th, 2009 - 11:36 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 6 (IANS) Special children have special needs. So for the first time the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has designated educators to answer the queries of disabled students who are taking the crucial Class 10 and Class 12 board exams.Four special educators figure in the list of 43 counsellors who will help students and parents overcome anxiety and stress during the board exams, which often prove nerve-wracking for students. This year the exams begin March 2.

“Realising the specific needs of specially-abled children taking the board exams for Class 10 and Class 12, for the first time we have included special educators to take care of them,” Rama Sharma, CBSE public relations officer, told IANS.

Like all the counsellors, the special educators are available online as well as on telephone from centres located in Mumbai and Delhi from Feb 1 to April 2. However, most queries are expected to start coming in about 15 days before the exams begin.

“Parents and children with special needs can call the number and get all their problems and doubts related to board exams cleared,” Sharma said.

M.R. Shipley, a special educator in Mumbai, said counselling specially-abled children requires a lot of patience and love.

“I empathise with them and try to step into their shoes to make them understand how to overcome problems during exams. I tell them nothing is wrong with them and try to boost their confidence so that the child is not under kind of pressure or demoralised,” said Shipley.

She is a counsellor with the Apeejay chain of schools and a CBSE resource person for the Adolescent Education Programme.

The special educators are more polite while dealing with disabled children, they also try to talk to the parents and explain the facilities provided by the CBSE to such children.

The CBSE offers exemptions to physically challenged, spastic and dyslexic candidates taking the month-long board exams.

“Concessions to physically challenged and dyslexic students are in the form of extra time - they have 60 more minutes to write the exam, a writer in the board exam and flexibility in subject choice at secondary level,” said Heetal Sayla, a CBSE special educator.

Sayla, who had worked with the Learning Disability clinic of the Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital, Mumbai, said: “For me, it will be a new experience as I am catering to the CBSE helpline for the first time.

“These kids should be looked up with love and patience and encouraged. I know many specially-abled students who perform quite well in their exams after counselling.”

The CBSE has also given special training to teachers for marking criteria for such children in board exams.

Another counsellor, Abha Sharma, said specially-abled kids are really vocal and there is a need to understand their strong abilities.

“It is difficult to completely understand the children in tele-counselling. At times you need to talk to both the parents and children to make things easier for them,” said Sharma.

The helplines are Abha Sharma, Mumbai, 9967800337, M.R Shipley, Mumbai, 9833950896, Hetal Sayla, Mumbai, 9819209623, and Shweta Khanna, Delhi, 9717882074.

The online address to get queries resolved is www.cbse.nic.in.

Last year, 1.31 million children appeared for the Class 10 and Class 12 board exams. Of them, students with special needs made up 0.17 percent.

(Richa Sharma can be contacted at richa.s@ians.in)

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