D.N.I.S. News Network – In a development that is expected to bridge the gap between demand and availability of trained teachers to educate students with disability, Delhi University will soon set up a college, to be named Durgabai Deshmukh College, that will run a teachers training programme for visually impaired students.
Blind Relief Association’s Deputy Executive Secretary P. C. Mehta said the proposal to get affiliation from a prestigious University to run B.Ed. course was sought from 2002 and since 2003 the matter was pending with the Academic Council.
“The Dean of Education, Delhi University, has approved the proposal. As soon as Executive Council will show the green signal to the project, the Vice-Chancellor will also give its nod,” he was quoted as saying to an English news daily.
Explaining the need for such a college, Mehta said though most universities have a quota for physically challenged students, which includes all sorts of impairment; there is need for special attention for visually handicapped students.
The Blind Relief Association will fund the college. Elaborating on preparations that are going on towards launching the course, Mehta stated that a library would also be established with books on extensive subjects in Braille. “We will include more talking books (books recorded on cassettes) in the library and we have told some of the experts to prepare books in Braille for this specific course. We are also running a post-graduate diploma for teachers training programme, which is funded by National Institute for Visually Handicapped (Dehra Dun),” he stated.
However, the University will design the course content for B.Ed. “There are some requirements of the Uuniversity that need to be met before clearance of the proposal. According to some statutes of the university and guidelines of the Rehabilitation Council of India Act, the course has to be designed by the affiliated Uuniversity,” said Executive Secretary K. S. Pandey. However, he also revealed that the content would almost be the same, as that of the university’s own B.Ed. course.
The faculty of the college will include four lectures, one research associate and one librarian. Explaining the benefits that the visually impaired students will get from the new college, Mr. Mehta stated, “Having a bachelor’s course recognised by Delhi University, which is specifically meant for the visually impaired students, will boost the morale of these students,”
Such a move may come as a surprise to those in the disability sector who have been asking for the mainstreaming of education. Though there is a dire need for training teachers to include methods to allow access to learning for students with disabilities, however, institutionalisation of such facilities in exclusive term could lead to segregation instead of inclusion.
Reacting to this news Ashwini Kumar Aggarwal, Joint Secretary of National Association for the Blind, said: “Inclusion and no compromise with the quality of training and education is what we want in all spheres. The idea of exclusion and thus compromise with quality of training and education is not desirable. By separating people or students with visual impairment from their “sighted” peers will end an important learning interaction for the former, as the two allow each other to learn their respective view points. Further, there is need to extend inclusion and not create special institution and foster segregation.”