Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Should we go back to Creating New Special Schools or Inclusive Schools?

Dear Friends,

Many of us have been reading UNCRPD day in an day out to understand its ramifications, impact on the conditions of the disabled people in India. We do believe it to be the only mantra to bring an equalitarian society so far as the disabled people of this country are concerned. The major thrust of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights & Full Participation) Act-1995 and now UNCRPD (UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities)- 2006 has been INCLUSION.

So many of us have started practicing it too! AADI (Action for Ability Development & Inclusion) presents a remarkable model of inclusion though it is other way round. i.e. while they moved from Special School to an Inclusive School, we are expecting the Government Schools and other Schools to move from General Schools to Inclusive Schools. There has been lot of brainstorming on the subject and on issues that one needs to deal with while implementing the true inclusion.

However, during this transition period from Segregation to Inclusion, we need to tread cautiously! Yes, it is true that while such a system is being put in place, we should not close down the special schools. However, our larger aim should be to mainstream the education. The special schools might co-exist to meet the needs of those who might not benefit or prefer the mainstream or inclusive education for various reasons.

However, when such questions go before the Court of Law, A judge with a good conscience and intentions might not be able to do justice for they may not be sufficiently exposed to the philosophy of inclusion and UNCRPD. Also, in this transition stage, many of us may not have clear answers to all issues which might work across the dimension and diversity of learners around.

In such a situation, the most likely fall out may be that we might see Orders /judgements from the Court of law that may put the trend in the reverse order. I think that this is what has occurred in the instant case in the Delhi High Court "Social Jurist Vs. Govt. of NCT of Delhi" where the Court seems to be ordering for creating Special Schools for the Disabled Children!! I feel there is an urgent need to assist the Court at this juncture to arrive at a more cogent decision in the matter which is in consonance with the UNCRPD, The PWD Act-1995 and the philosophy of Inclusion!

Here is the news items that appears today in Mail Today :

Govt to open special schools for disabled kids By
Praveen Kumar

In New Delhi ABOUT two lakh disabled children in the Capital can look forward to special schools with state- of- the- art facilities from the 2009 academic session.

The decision comes after the Delhi High Court criticised the Delhi government, the New Delhi Municipal Corporation ( NDMC), and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi ( MCD) for not doing enough for children with special needs.

The authorities have assured the court that they will open dedicated schools for physically challenged students.

The Delhi High Court had constituted a committee in October to look into issues related to disabled children and nonavailability of specially trained teachers for disabled students in schools run by the MCD and Delhi government. In its reply, the committee said the government would build 11 schools, the MCD 22 and the NDMC one. They would be named Rajkiya Samakit Vidyalaya , it said. The committee also informed the court that the proposal to build these schools was under way and the staff hired would be trained to cope with the needs of disabled students.

According to the latest figures, only 8,000 disabled students study in Delhi government schools, while 2,000 study in MCD schools. Besides, the schools have no special facilities for disabled children.

The response of the authorities came after a PIL filed by Social Jurists, an NGO, through counsel Ashok Aggrawal. The PIL said children suffering from blindness, hearing impairment and mental disability were deprived of the right to education.

Aggrawal said a three- member team had visited various primary schools run by the MCD and Delhi government. The teachers had admitted their ignorance about teaching disabled children.
“ The failure on the part of authorities to provide quality education, attention and care to children with disabilities amounts to violation of fundamental rights,” the petition said. Seeking a barrier- free environment in schools, the lawyer said the government should provide special toilets and ramps for students with disabilities.

The next hearing is on February 11, 2009.


Why step-motherly treatment to Visually Impaired in Jobs?

Dear Friends,

From a long time, the Visually Disabled sector has been a victim of silent discrimination in the process of reservations in the jobs identified for them. The posts have been either not reserved for them to the mandatory number and where reserved, they were kept vacant on some or the other pretext. Many RTI replies to this effect revealed this truth but Departments failed to react on representations and petitions from the user groups and their organisation.

Over and above the Memorandum from the DOPT reducing the definition of the backlog and allowing the old vacancies to lapse further created a grim situation.

In such a scenario, the judgement in the present PIL has come as a relief to the disability sector. We hope that the Government Departments shall conform to the time period set by the court and fill in the vacancies.

I shall post the original judgement for your information in due course of time.

Here is the news on the Judgement by the Delhi High Court

Reserve jobs for visually-impaired as per law, Delhi High Court tells Centre New Delhi, Dec 22:

Accepting a plea filed by a group of visually-impaired persons, the Delhi High Court has asked the Union government to comply with the provisions of the Disabilities Act and reserve jobs for such candidates in the government and PSUs.

In a recent judgement, a Division Bench of Justice A P Shah and Justice S Muralidhar directed the Centre to fully comply with the Disabilities Act, according to which 3 percent jobs should be reserved for disabled persons, including 1 percent for the visually-impaired candidates. Giving a
deadline to the Central government till 2010 to fill up the job backlog; the Bench set up a committee to monitor that the court order was complied with by the government.
However, the court authorised the committee to appoint the non-disabled persons in exceptional cases.

The court order followed a PIL filed by National Blind Federation through advocate S K Rungta accusing the government of adopting step-motherly attitude towards the disabled. He submitted before the court that job reservation was given to physically challenged and hearing impaired persons in government establishments but visually weak or blind persons were deprived from their entitlement of 1 out of 3 percent under the Disabilities Act.

Bureau Report