Inclusive education is the motto these days. But school education in the State is hardly inclusive despite the best efforts by the Government and the Samagra Shiksha Kerala (SSK), according to parents of a few differently abled children who have been left out of the system.
Shahul Madavoor, State chairman of the Society for Rehabilitation of Differently Abled (SRDA), is the latest complainant. Earlier this month, he had alleged that his child, who was intellectually challenged, did not get the required attention at school, as the institution did not have the services of a resource teacher, a teacher trained in special education deployed at schools by the SSK.
Mr. Madavoor pointed out that his son was the only special needs student at the school. As the SSK has a policy of deploying teachers to only those schools that have at least five children with special needs, the services of the resource teacher were withdrawn from this particular school. No other teacher cared if my child attended school or not, he lamented.
It was only a few months ago that The Hindu reported a similar incident at West Hill in the city. Ironically, the parent in that case was reluctant to complain for fear of teachers at the school turning against her child. Resource teachers are not supposed to teach special children but guide other teachers to help them. But the idea is yet to be ingrained in the brains of teachers here, Mr. Madavoor said. The SSK, however, has blamed it on the scarcity of resource teachers. We are facing a severe scarcity of teachers trained to attend to special children. Hence, we have been able to deploy only one teacher for two schools, SSK district coordinator Abdul Hakeem said.
However, he complained that the other teachers were yet to accept that they were responsible for the special children too, despite repeated orientation sessions. They often wash their hands of special children and are focused on teaching healthy children, while it is special children who really need their help, Mr. Hakeem said, adding that it might take a few more years for the idea to sink in among teachers.