Education for Children with Special Needs
The community at large is often unaware of the potential of children with special needs.
In the popular mind, special needs are usually identified with very low expectations. Parent should believe in the value of educating children with special needs. The higher the expectations, the higher will be their acceptance in the family.
All the children with special needs must be enrolled in primary schools. After the assessment of their disabilities by a team of a doctor, a psychologist, and a special educator, in schools, the child will be placed in appropriate educational settings. Children with mild and moderate disabilities of any kind may be integrated in normal schools, severe in special schools/ remedial schools, drop outs who have problems in availing benefits of normal schools can join open schools. All the children with learning disabilities alone are first managed in the normal schools. Open and special schools also offer vocational courses also for children with disabilities.
The Ministry of Human Resource Development (Department of Secondary and Higher Education) has been implementing a scheme of ‘Integrated Education for the Disabled Children’ (IEDC) in formal schools since 1982. The main objective of the scheme is to provide educational opportunities for the disabled children in normal schools so as to facilitate their retention in the school system. The disabled children who are placed in special schools should be considered for integration into common schools once they acquire the communication and daily living skills at a functional level.
The following types of children with disabilities must be integrated in the normal school system- formal as well as in non- formal schools.
- Children with locomotor handicaps (O.H.)
- Mildly and moderately hearing impaired
- Partially sighted children
- Mentally handicapped educable group (IQ 50-70)
- Children with multiple handicaps ( blind and orthopaedic, hearing impaired and
- Orthopaedic, educable mentally retarded and orthopaedic, visual impaired and mild hearing impaired)
A three- member assessment team comprising of a doctor, a psychologist and a special educator is formed and their assessment report recommends whether a child can be enrolled directly into a normal school or should receive preparation in a special school/ or a special preparatory class in Early Childhood Education Centre(ECCE) specially equipped for this purpose. Under the IEDC scheme, resources and itinerant teachers are provided. Children are also given certain incentives like book allowance, equipment allowance, transport-allowance etc.
This is a programme of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. Children with severe multiple disabilities who have difficulty in coping with regular schools are referred to such special schools. Most of these special schools are located in urban areas and run by voluntary organizations. A majority of them are residential schools, and boarding- lodging and other services are provided free of cost. At present more than 3000 special schools for the disabled children are functioning across the country. Out of them approximately 900 institutions are specialized for the hearing impaired, 400 for the visually impaired, 1000 for the mentally retarded and the remaining 700 are for the children with physical disabilities. 40 per cent disability of any such particular types is a benchmark for identification and certification for admission in these special schools.
National Open School (NOS)
The NOS was established as an Autonomous Registered Society in 1989 with the mission to provide education through an open learning system at the school stage as an alternative to the formal system. It is specially suited to the needs of certain categories such as school dropouts, girls, mentally or physically disabled, etc. It has also developed educational materials for teaching children with special needs in their own homes. At present there are 1459 NOS study centres in the country.
It offers courses like the foundation course, notionally equivalent to class VIII level, secondary education and higher secondary courses and vocational courses. The NOS also provides the programme of Open Basic Education for Universal Elementary Education (UEE), which includes programme for the disabled children. It offers Open Basic Education courses through the following:
Open Basic Education (OBE)
This project is for out of school children in the age group 6-14 and also for adult learners. It has 3 levels : Preparatory, i.e.
- Which are equivalent to a formal school standard of class III,V and VIII respectively.
Special Accredited Institutions for Education of the Disadvantaged (SAIED
To cater to the needs of the people with physical or mental disabilities the NOS has accredited institutions for education of the disadvantaged. Academic courses like open basic education (OBE), secondary and senior secondary courses and vocational courses are offered either independently or in combination with an academic subject(s) through SAIED.
Special Fe atures of NOS
- It allows total freedom to learn at one’s own speed. One gets a period of 5 years and 9 chances to complete the course
- Flexibility in choice of subjects.
- There is no age limitation for admission in NOS programmers.
- For admission, a person is required to submit the following supporting documents:
- Attested copy of birth certificate, obtained in one of the following ways:
- From the Admission Register of the last school attended or
- Birth certificate from Registrar of Births and Death or
- From a recognized Hospital or
- Affidavit from parents countersigned by first class/sub division magistrate.
- Minimum Education Qualifications:
- Self Certificate or Certificate of class V / Matriculation/Higher Secondary pass.
- Five recent passport size (3cmx2cm) photographs are also required
- Handicapped are exempted from payment of registration and cost of course material.
- Candidates with disabilities are required to produce a certificate from a Government hospital and not from a private nursing home.
Information Source: Government of India website.