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Inclusive Education Plan set for launch next year: Arjun Singh

D.N.I.S. News Network A National Action Plan for Inclusive Education of Children and Youth with Disability is in its finalisation stage and would be made operational by the next academic year, Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh said on the eve of World Disability Day at an award ceremony in the National Capital.

The minister said the process of consultations with experts, N.G.O.s, disability rights groups and other stakeholders on the action plan was nearing completion. It would be introduced ''most likely from the next academic year'', he later informed. Currently, the educational needs of children with disabilities are covered either in special schools or integrated mainstream schools.

While presenting the 'Plan of Action for Inclusive Education of Children and Youth with Disabilities' in the Rajya Sabha on 21 March last, the minister had pointed out that non-specialist schools could be adapted to work with children with disabilities as per the trend worldwide. With the action plan, the Centre expects greater progress in its 'Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan'. It could also help prioritise implementation of three per cent reservation in all institutions receiving funds from the Government for persons with disabilities as provided for by the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995, the minister said.

According to disability rights activists, literacy level among the disabled population is only 49 per cent as against 65 per cent for others. An estimated six to seven per cent of India's population has one or the other form of disability, they say. Singh gave away the seventh N.C.P.E.D.P.-Shell Helen Keller awards to six individuals and four organisations which have contributed positively to the cause of employment for disabled people.