Volume 2 Issue 20 - October 15, 2004

CBSE schools most insensitive to disabled students' needs

DNIS News Network - A survey commissioned by the Human Resource Development Ministry reveals some shocking truths.

An average of Rs 16 per student is all that our private schools care to put in community service programmes in a year. For every Rs 12,000 to Rs 30,000 they earn in annual fees from each student, they are not willing to forgo more than Rs 71 on fee concessions for the poor.

These are some shocking revelations from a survey commissioned by the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry in 2002. The report, prepared by Media Management Group for Literacy and Development, was submitted to the ministry early this month.

Out of 80 schools surveyed in the study, 24 did not "allow disabled children to be admitted to their institutions". In Delhi, Modern Schools (Vasant Vihar and Barakhamba Road), Delhi Public School (Mathura Road), and Air Force Bal Bharati had not given admission to any disabled child in 2001-02.

Mumbai's Campion school, St Xavier's and Jamnabai Narsee; Kolkata's Loreto, Don Bosco, Ashok Hall; Chennai's Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan, Padma Sheshadari and Maharishi Vidya Mandir; and Guwahati's Don Bosco and Holy Child schools also did not have any disabled students on their rolls during this period.

Schools affiliated to CBSE were most insensitive to this cause, the report says. Out of 1.4 lakh students enrolled in the 80 schools that were surveyed, only 686 were children with special needs. "Seven out of these 80 had only one student with disability, 80 per cent had less than 10," the report says.

But not all schools turned their back on disabled students. Lakshmipati Singhania in Kolkata, St Mary's in Delhi and Mumbai's Cathedral and John Cannon are among the top 10 schools that have invested in creating facilities for students with disabilities. In 2001-2 the three schools spent between Rs 2.7 lakh and Rs 8.5 lakh on employing special educators, buying equipment and creating the required infrastructure for students with special needs.

Conducting medical check-ups for students seemed the most popular charitable exercise among the schools, the report says. "Surprisingly, while 94 per cent of the schools provide for medical care, 32.9 per cent spent no money for it. The solution to the mystery lies in the fact that in many schools parents, who are doctors, perform the annual check-up for free." But 50 per cent of the schools still paid for it. "They spent less than 3,000 annually for the purpose, which comes to Rs 500 per month," the report reveals. Almost 80 per cent of these schools seemed reluctant to spend on community service programmes; 62.5 per cent did not benefit even a single person while one school claimed its own student as a beneficiary, the report says.

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