A long way ahead for children with disabilities
|© UNICEF India|
Inclusion is not about inserting persons with disabilities into existing structures, but about transforming systems to be inclusive of everyone. When barriers exist, inclusive communities transform the way they are organized to meet the needs of all children’. UNICEF, 2007
18 August 2014 – In India, as elsewhere in the world, people and children with disabilities are too often invisible due to lack of availability of accurate data. Facing daily discrimination in the form of negative attitudes, lack of adequate policies and provisions, they are effectively barred from realizing their rights to healthcare and education.
India has achieved close to universal enrolment in primary education. However, the figures for children with disabilities are staggering: out of 2.90 million children with disabilities in India, 0.99 million (34.12%) children in the age group of 6 -14 are out-of-school. Percentage of out-of-school children is more in the group of children with intellectual disabilities (48%), speech (36%) and multiple disabilities (58.6%) as compare to other types of disabilities. (SRI-IMRB Survey, MHRD, Govt. of India, 2009).
Children with intellectual disabilities have seldom seen their rights fulfilled in our society. And, to make the matters even more complicated, experts believe that many schools are still not ready to equip themselves for the special needs of children with disabilities. Some schools are even wary about admitting them in their schools.
|© UNICEF India|
The Rights to Education (RTE) Act 2009 provides clear guidelines about inclusive education and emphasises on the rights of all children, including children with disabilities.
‘It is a challenging task’, says Niloufar Pourzand, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF office for Uttar Pradesh. She reiterates that ‘we must do all that we can to ensure that the rights of children with disabilities are realized. UNICEF is committed for the cause of children with disabilities and would continue to provide technical support to the state partners towards inclusion of all children in schools and in the society.’
At a recent workshop in Lucknow organized by Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (national programme on Education for All in India), UNICEF and School for Potential Advancement and Restoration of Confidence (SPARC), participants focused on key challenges of identifying and mainstreaming of children with intellectual disabilities, children with cerebral palsy and children with autism spectrum disorder.
Most were unanimous in their view that there has to be a convergent approach to address these issues. While we need to hire more itinerant teachers or special teachers who are more like roving teachers, we must also look at the curriculum itself.
|© UNICEF India|
The key to addressing the needs of children with disabilities would include: development of the early childhood interventions for children with disabilities, capacity building of Anganwadi Workers (centre based frontline workers of Integrated Child Development Services) on early detection and support for early childhood intervention, development of flexible curriculum for the needs of children with disabilities, preparation of qualified and trained teachers who are sensitive to the diverse needs of differently-abled children, and who are able to ensure that their attitudes, teaching practices and learning materials, and school environments are free from any biases or prejudices against certain groups.
While the dream of achieving the goal of RTE can only be realized when education system addresses the issue of inclusion, there is also a need to raise awareness amongst parents that like other children, these children have their dreams and aspirations too, and like other children, they have rights too.
All children, All rights, Everywhere.
Communication Officer (Media) , UNICEF India
Tel (+91) 9810170289,9891861445;
United Nations Children’s Fund
UNICEF House, 73 Lodi Estate, New Delhi,