D.N.I.S. News Network, India: Statistics can be terribly misleading. And nothing proves it better than the much hyped results of students with disabilities in this year’s Central Board of Secondary Education (C.B.S.E.) examination. The pass percentage in the special category was 90.08 percent with Chennai topping the list with a pass percentage of 95.63 percent. 952 students with disability scored above 60 percent, of which 38 scored 90 percent and above.
These facts tend to indicate a growing trend of inclusive education and a greater sensitivity towards disability. But these figures will look shocking when the full picture comes to the fore. N.C.P.E.D.P. had recently written to C.B.S.E. asking for detailed data on disabled students appearing for in this year’s class XII examinations. While the total number of students who appeared for the exams this year was 8,05, 297, the number of disabled students was only 1,683 – a mere 0.21 percent! It means that 99.8 percent students with disabilities do not even make it to class XII.
In 2003, N.C.P.E.D.P. did a research on inclusive education in India. Sadly, the response rate was only 27.89 percent with only 89 out of 319 schools responding. The others probably were indifferent to the provisions of the Disability Act, 1995 which requires 3 percent seats to be reserved for students with disability. The schools that did respond had just 0.5 percent students with disabilities enrolled. In six years, things are far from being better.
The Census of 2001 puts the disabled population of India at 22 million while the disability sector puts it at 70 million. According to statistics, the population of disabled children and youth is 40 percent of the total disabled population. This amounts to 28 million children and youth with disabilities.
The Government has launched programmes like the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (S.S.A.) for universalisation of elementary education with much fanfare. Whether or not the disabled population of the country have a right to education is a question that disabled rights groups are pondering over. From the looks of it 28 million disabled children and youth do not seem to figure in the Government’s plan of things.