Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Centre Govt. informs SC that it notified the standards of pupil-teacher ratio for special schools and separate norms for special teachers who alone can impart education and training to Child with Special Needs (CwSN) in general schools

Govt. of India has confirmed before a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar, A S Oka, and J B Pardiwala on 21 July 2022 that it has accepted the  norms and standards of pupil-teacher ratio for special schools and also separate norms for special educators, who alone can impart education and training to children with special needs in general schools, as recommended by the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI). In its compliance affidavit filed before the Hon'ble Supreme Court, the Ministry of Education referred to the norms and standards as per which the recommended pupil-teacher (special education teacher) ratio for regular (inclusive) school is 10:1 for the primary level and 15:1 for the upper primary, secondary and higher secondary level.

The letter also clarifies that the parity of pay and service conditions should be adhered to for special education teachers as done for general education teachers at national and state levels", it is related to respective State Governments/ UT Administrations as Education being in the concurrent list of subjects.

With this, a long pending issues have been settled and implemented regarding status of special education teachers  (under RCI) at par with the B Ed. teachers (under NCTE) and also that children with disabilities would be taught only by teachers trained under RCI and the educational insstitutions will also ensure that the teacher pupil ratio as prescribed by the RCI is maintrained to ensure quality of education and to comply with the provisons of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act. 

The department of school education and literacy, Ministry of Education, had issued a letter on June 10, 2022 to the education secretaries of all the states and Union Territories (UTs), the commissioners of 'Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan' and 'Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti' wherein the norms and standards of pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) have been circulated with a request to take further necessary action in the light of the apex court judgement and furnish an action taken report to the department.

"Since this department has finalised the norms and standards i.e PTR for special teachers/special educators who alone can impart education and training to CwSN (children with special needs) in the general schools, it is humbly submitted that this department is in the process of issuing notification by amending the 'schedule' of the RTE Act, 2009, in compliance of para 34 of the judgement dated October 28, 2021, passed by this court. It is further submitted that this process is likely to take 4 to 6 weeks," the affidavit said.

Supreme Court was hearing the complinace of its judgement passed on 28 Oct 2021 in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 132/2016 titled Rajneesh Kumar Pandey & Ors versus Union of India & Ors, wherein the Court had said that the Centre must forthwith notify the standards of pupil-teacher ratio for special schools as also separate norms for special teachers who alone can impart education and training to Child with Special Needs (CwSN) in general schools across the country.

The bench, however, posted the matter for further hearing on August 17, 2022 asking the concerned states and UTs to submit the compliance report to the Secretary of the Ministry.

The affidavit said the committee, as formed by RCI to formulate the norms of special educators in special schools, was also requested to formulate the norms, guidelines, standards on ratio, roles, responsibilities, etc of special teachers/special educators in general schools in view of the apex court directions. It said the draft norms were submitted to the ministry by the RCI.

 RCI has also recommended and redefined the "role of special teachers", while being a catalyst to empower children with disabilities, they will undertake certain responsibilities for facilitating inclusive education. It included providing tips for making an inclusive school climate, culture, and ethos where all systems from admission to assessments, teaching, and evaluation are disabled-friendly. The letter also referred to the "outreach activities" for special teachers which include, undertaking home visits and support home training programs. The "suggested activities" for special teachers, will also include developing an annual/monthly calendar of activities for inclusion.

Here is the judgemment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court: 

Writ Petition (Civil) No. 132/2016 Rajneesh Kumar Pandey& Others VERSUS Union of India & Others. 

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