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CwDs face higher probability of not completing primary or secondary education: D Nakhro

Nagaland News

DIMAPUR, MAY 26: State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Diethono Nakhro today presented a detailed assessment of the current status of education for Children with Disabilities (CwDs) and identified them as one of the most marginalized and excluded groups, echoing a concern that is globally recognized.
Delivering the keynote address at the workshop on “Right of children with disabilities related with education”, hosted by Prodigals’ Home and supported by the Office of the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Nakhro drew attention to the lack of comprehensive data on this demographic, not just in Nagaland but everywhere, and said that even when accepted in joint schools, these children face a higher probability of not completing primary or secondary education compared to their peers without disabilities and added that many such students drop out of schools due to consciousness of their parents’ struggles and inaccessibility of facilities. These challenges make the pursuit of higher education an impossible task for most, she added.
Referencing a 2016 analysis that identified disability as the third most dominant factor influencing a child’s school attendance, after income and gender, she voiced concern over the outdated and underestimated disability data still in use for Nagaland from the 2011 Census. Despite the global disability prevalence estimated at 15%, the census records show a meager 1.5% for Nagaland.
Maintaining that a comprehensive understanding of disabilities, some of which are not physically visible, is needed, she emphasized that change has been overdue and asserted that while the Department of Social Welfare is the nodal Department for the people with disabilities, everyone shares the responsibility for action, including civil societies, various Departments and even churches.
She underscored that all Departments must regard disabled people as citizens too and they exist to provide services to the citizens of the State.
Reflecting on the National Education Policy (NEP) and its design to avoid segregation, she however noted her concern about the practical implementation of policies, maintaining that no matter how good the laws are, if they are not implemented properly, only good laws cannot bring about actual benefits.
Nakhro expressed her disappointment with the current state of inclusive schools in Nagaland. Despite the existence of a few inclusive schools, she pointed out that several of them were not adhering to the principles of proper inclusive education, often segregating CwD by making them sit separately. While she recognized the people advocating for purely inclusive schools, she defended the space for special schools too.
Acknowledging the shortcomings of the current education system in being inclusive, Nakhro stressed the importance of CwD learning alongside their peers in inclusive schools, as it fosters learning beyond the classroom, thus contributing to building a more inclusive society.
Deputy Director, School Education, Nellayappan B, speaking on the occasion on the importance of inclusive education, highlighted several key areas of concern in the education system related to children with disabilities. He stated that the State has presently just 35 special education teachers attached with BRC, significantly less than what is required for the entire State.
Nellayappan said that although the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) has been conducting special teachers training, there is lack of follow-ups and added that while the intent of the trainings is good, without follow-ups, the trainings are of no value.
On the occasion, he introduced the attendees to the Department’s NECTER project, a Rs. 650-crore initiative over 5 years, currently in its third year and spoke at length about its plans and objectives, mentioning efforts that include teacher training programmes and intention to take the training large-scale across the State.
He said that NECTER has an innovative concept of ‘lighthouse’ schools and noted that in each district, one school will be designated as a ‘lighthouse’ school and it will be a state-of-the-art space, equipped with all necessary facilities and resources.
In his speech, Nellayappan also spoke of a recent Supreme Court directive on special education teachers. He said that the Court has ordered the Department to apprise special education teachers in all schools and identify posts that could be converted to special education teachers. He informed that the Department is in the process of identifying posts and has identified about 200 posts so far.
Providing a potential solution to expedite this process, the Deputy Director suggested using some of the more than 10,000 surplus teachers in the State to fill these roles. Instead of the lengthy process of identifying and creating posts, he proposed training these surplus teachers as special education teachers and pledged to advocate for this approach within the Department.
Furthermore, he revealed that a notification was issued recently regarding a 4% reservation for children with special needs in Class 11 admissions. He expressed the Department’s intent to continue this practice and expand the reservation to other classes in the future.
Earlier, Director of Prodigal’s Home, K Ela, gave a brief introduction on the issues faced by the CwDs in her welcome note, while Joint. Secretary of NSDF, Nagaland, Ngaugongbe and Special Educator and Headmistress of Bumblebee Inclusive School, Kohima, Kopele Tepa spoke on the scenario of CwDs related to school. Rokovitsu Khate, panel lawyer of Dimapur District Legal Services Authority, on the occasion, spoke on the rights of CwDs and provisions within RPWD Act 2016 and NEP 2020.
(Page News Service)

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