Saturday, February 6, 2010

Admit special kids or face action: CBSE

India still doesn't have an Integrated School sytem. Getting a special needs child admitted to a school is a big task. For Pre Schools the options are quite good. These days Play Groups like 'Tree House', 'Kangaroo Kids' do have special educators, but the Primary/Secondary schooling scenario is not good.
Majority of IB/ICSE board schools admit kids with special needs as they have special educators and they believe in Integrated school system. But I am not sure if everybody can afford the fees.Also the ICSE board syallbus is supposed to be the toughest. And CBSE and State Boards are not well equipped. So here comes this news, which will make you happy :)

Admit special kids or face action: CBSE
Schools Get Diktat That No Student Should Be Denied Admission For Being Physically Challenged Or Differently Abled
Mumbai: The Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) has taken a huge step towards offering equal opportunity to all children seeking an education, including those with “special needs’’. The board has reminded its schools that they cannot deny admission to students on the grounds that they are differently abled, but this time the threat of dire consequences has been included in the diktat.

A recent circular issued by the CBSE says, “It is being reiterated that any school which fails to provide attention to a child with special needs or makes a pretext of denying admission to any category of differently abled children will be liable to stringent action even to the extent of disaffiliation.’’ The statement in the circular is attributed to Vineet Joshi, chairperson of the CBSE.

Special children include a range of kids, including those who are physically challenged, visually impaired, hearing impaired, spastics, and those who have Down Syndrome, Learning Disability (LD) and autism. LD can include dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia and other conditions. Kids from poverty-stricken backgrounds are also considered as those with special needs, a CBSE official told TOI.

The circular also makes it mandatory for all schools to have a special educator and to create an “individual evaluation programme’’ for special children based on their abilities and skill sets.

Since special children may not be able to focus on the teacher during classroom interactions, and their pace of learning may be at variance with the rest of the class, schools have been told to allow a parent or aide to sit with the child in class and motivate him to “move along with the rest of the class’’.

A senior CBSE official said the new policy would be easier to implement now that the board is set to make the Class X board exam optional and replace it with a system of continuous and comprehensive evaluation. “Earlier, schools were obsessed with the marks their children scored in Class X and would even include these marks in the advertisements for their school. This also led to schools excluding children with special needs as they felt these kids would spoil their record at the board exams. The fact that board exams are losing their significance will help our new policy work,’’ said the official.

The CBSE board also wants to start grading schools, a system that would help the board pull up schools that do not offer inclusive education.

“Thank God for this decision,’’ said Sheetal Kumar, the lawyer whose battle against an apathetic system led to the Bombay High Court’s landmark ruling on LD three years ago.

“I feel this is a very proactive step on the part of the CBSE board, which is one of the most child-friendly boards in the country,’’ said Avnita Bir, principal of R N Podar School, Santa Cruz. Cherian George, principal of Kendriya Vidyalaya, IIT Powai, also gave the policy a thumbs-up.

“This is a very positive step and will definitely give special kids a leg up. I think the new move will do a lot to spread awareness about kids with special needs,’’ said Usha Bhatia, principal of the Shapurji Billimoria Trusts’s teacher training course, the first in Maharashtra to train teachers in integrated


There are, however, sceptics who wonder how the policy will take off. “Are teachers equipped to deal with special kids? Do we have the infrastucture and training to implement such a policy?’’ asked the mother of a boy with Down Syndrome.

Psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty, a pioneer in the LD movement in the country, said India has way too many excuses for not implementing inclusive education. He said inclusive education does not need massive funds, just a change in mindset. “We can’t wait for schools across the country to be ready for integration before we pass a policy,’’ said Shetty, adding that the CBSE’s latest missive was a landmark for inclusive education.

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