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Shortage of teachers for disabled people

DNIS News Network -- In India, there are 3.5 crore disabled children, of which only 2 per cent have access to education.

For disabled people life is never easy, even if you are still a child. Inaccessible schools and inaccessible classrooms are just the start. And for those few who do manage to make the daily journey to the classroom, specialist educators are in short supply.

According to the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan there is a need for about two lakh special educators but the government has been able to train just 6,000 to work at primary school level. The result is that disabled children have to make do with regular teachers, who are not trained adequately to teach the disabled.

Under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan at least one special educator is required in each block to take care of children with special needs. They are to be attached to regular schools where children with disability would study along others.

While the state government is running the primary schools and the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is managed by the HRD ministry, training special educators is the responsibility of the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI) that works under the Union ministry of social justice and empowerment.

The RCI offers a diploma and a BEd (Special) course on educating the disabled but such courses have few takers, as they are not recognized. Only a few teachers undertake such training because there is no compulsion on them to do so.

Another factor is the fact that job opportunities in this area are often limited despite the extreme shortage of special needs teachers, as state governments are not even looking to fill the gaps. HPS. Ahluwalia, chairman of RCI, says, "People opting for this course have difficulty getting a job. As teacher training is undertaken by us and the teachers work under the HRD ministry and the state governments, we cannot order them to take the courses."

The RCI has now asked the National Council for Teacher Education to recognize these courses.