Many of them do not take kids with special needs
Government schools lack special teachers for children with disabilities. Principals of these schools say regular teachers are the ones teaching ‘Children with Special Needs’ (CWSN).
Shamanta, principal of the Government High School in Sampangi Rama Nagar, informed The Observer: “We allow children with special needs to take admissions in our school. They are also taught by our regular teachers. Special educators at the block level do visit our school every 15 days”
Asked how regular teachers who have no training in teaching CWSN teach them, she said: “Such children are given special attention in a group where other students also study. Indians are born dancers, so teachers are always gesturing while they teach so… deaf children are more or less able to make out what is being taught.”
According to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016, all educational institutes under the state governments are obliged to admit persons with disabilities (PWDs) without any discrimination and provide them with PWD-friendly resources and facilitiesHowever, some government schools like GUPBS School, Banashankari,don’t enroll CWSN students. Principal Nusrath Fathima said: “We don’t admit visually impaired or deaf children. Such students are sent to special schools. Although, we do take physically challenged children, they don’t need special educators.”
As per the RPWD Act, it is the duty of schools and educational institutions to employ and train teachers in Braille and sign language.
Padmavati C, an English teacher at the Government High School in Sampangi Rama Nagar, shared: “Even though I am not trained in Braille or sign language, I did not find it challenging to teach students with special needs. Such students were more attentive than regular students.”
Asked if she is trained to teach special children, she said: “In my BEd course, we used to have one class where IERT (Inclusive Education Resources Teachers) used to train us in the basics of special education. Now IERT, for the most part, come for inspection and provide… hearing aids and sticks for the blind,” she added.
Subramanya H.R., a maths teacher, on the contrary, finds it difficult to teach students with special needs. “While easier concepts like basic trigonometry are comparatively easier to teach, special students may not grasp higher-level math concepts unless taught by special educators.”
Both Padmavati and Subramanya said special children are not taught in regular schools for long. Based on the severity of their disability, they are sent to special schools after some time. However, the RPWD Act gives students with disabilities the liberty to go to either special schools or regular schools.
According to the Karnataka government’s 2018-19 report titled ‘School Education in Karnataka’,the state had identified 77,851 CWSN students. That year, the government had hired four Block Inclusive Education Resource Teachers and 204 special educators under the School Readiness Programme.
Special educator Puneet Gupta said it is important that CWSN are taught by special educators. “A special educator caters to specific needs of a student with either visual impairment or hearing impairment. I am trained in HI (hearing impairment) which means I can teach students who are deaf.”
Explaining how inclusive education should work, he said: “One should visit Amarjyoti (an NGO). They have both special educators and regular teachers in a mixed classroom. The true essence of inclusive education is to sensitize children without disabilities to treat their fellow disabled classmates with respect. As a special educator, it is my job to sit beside CWSN when a regular class is being conducted. I will sit and make the child understand what is taught by the regular teacher.”
The Observer visited a few government schools but couldn’t meet any educators who teach CWSN. All students, with or without disabilities, were being taught by regular teachers. In addition, The Observer did not notice PWD-friendly aids such as ramps for the physically challenged or separate lanes for the blind.