RTE and Sarva Shikshan Abiyan have created opportunities and enrollment in schools has increased
Prahlad Rao | July 7, 2015
India has been celebrating uncommon success of Ira Singhal, who has topped civil services rank list. Even though she studied in normal educational institutions despite her disability, Ira can take note as future bureaucrat that India has made great strides in providing education to children of special needs.
According to the study by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the Education for All Global Monitoring Report (EFR GMR), India has created opportunities for people with disabilities.
Its report says the RTE (right to education) and the main EFA (education for all) programme, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, created opportunities for people with disabilities to be included in mainstream schools. National estimates of enrolment of children with special needs show a sharp increase, from 566,921 in 2002/03 to 2.16 million in 2007/08, and the percentage of schools with ramps increased from 1.5% in 2004 to 55% in 2012/13.
The study also notes with concern that a large share of children with disabilities still remains out of school. In 2012/13, it was estimated that, nationally, almost half the children with mental disabilities were out of school.
Still, the advances represent major progress and reflect emerging political attention to children with disabilities, the UN report says.
How this can be improved? The UN report says community involvement can help alleviate societal barriers A major challenge in improving education for children with disabilities is that cultural discrimination can exacerbate undercounting of disabled children, their lack of access to education and other opportunities to lead a fulfilling life.
Along with efforts to improve national-level data collection, approaches that involve the community, parents and the children themselves need to be encouraged, as they are more likely to provide sustainable, locally relevant solutions and foster a social model of inclusion.
India has made "impressive" progress in providing primary education to its children but it is still struggling to achieve similar results in lower secondary education and has the largest number of out-of- school adolescents, the UN study said.
"India has made impressive progress in the provision of primary education but is struggling to do the same for lower secondary education," the report said.
The report records its appreciation of the fact that rural India saw substantial improvement in nearly all aspects of school facilities and infrastructure between 2003 and 2010. The share of schools with electricity more than doubled, from 20% to 45%. The availability of paved roads increased, so that 78% of schools had a road within 1 kilometre in 2010 compared with 69% in 2003 (Muralidharan et al., 2014). Improved electrification increases education outcomes.
On how state policies help the UN study gives example of Tamil Nadu. Broad and specific strategies have been used to improve education for orphaned and vulnerable children, the report says. To support retention, Tamil Nadu used welfare programmes to reduce the disparity between orphaned and vulnerable children and non-orphans, such as providing textbooks, uniforms, bus passes and financial assistance to children who have lost a breadwinning parent.
Full report: click here
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