Draft Education Policy ignores differently-abled people: Experts

Draft Education Policy ignores differently-abled people: Experts
Highlights

Questions are being raised over the new Draft National Education Policy-2019 (DNEP-2019) giving a little or no attention to the issues related to the Children with Special Needs (CwSN) and Persons with Disabilities (PwDs).

Hyderabad: Questions are being raised over the new Draft National Education Policy-2019 (DNEP-2019) giving a little or no attention to the issues related to the Children with Special Needs (CwSN) and Persons with Disabilities (PwDs).

According to the sources in the Education department, there is the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act-2016. It is a specific Act enacted to address the issues related to them, however, the same is not reflected in the DNEP.

Instead, the committee had grouped both the children with special needs (CsSN) and persons with disabilities (PwDs) under the Uunder-Represented Groups (URGs), along with SC, ST, OBC, Muslims, migrant communities and the urban poor.

Giving more details on the complete neglect of PwDs, national convener of Special Educators' Forum-India (SEFI) Kalpagiri said,

"What is more curious is that the DNEP talks about the CwSN and PwDs taking into consideration Persons with Disabilities Act, 2005, which is not in existence, following the enactment of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016," he added.

For example, the DNEP talks about "children with special needs" a term which the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 does not use.

Another anomaly found was that the DNEP talks about only school education and leaves aside the measures to address concerns of students enrolled for higher education, which, for a variety of reasons continues to be inaccessible for persons with disabilities.

Also, there are special schools mostly run by the NGOs functioning under the domain of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

The DNEP does not make any mention whether such a school system should be brought under the MHRD after the guidelines are framed under the new National Education Policy.

What is more interesting is that in his opening message former Union Human Resources Development Minister Prakash Javadekar claims that the draft was prepared after "unprecedented, collaborative, multi-pronged, multi-stakeholder, bottom-up people-centric, inclusive, participatory consultation process".

However, "The appendix attached to the DNEP belies the claim," alleges Kalpagiri.

He says not a single organisation working among the disabled were involved in the process of consultations.

Even the nodal ministry for the disabled welfare like the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, the National Trust – are all glaring omissions from the list.

What takes the cake is even the Rehabilitation Council of India, which is mandated "to regulate and monitor services given to persons with disability, to standardise syllabus and to maintain a central rehabilitation register of all qualified professionals and personnel working in the field of rehabilitation and special education does not figure in the list," the SEFI pointed out.

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