Calling Delhi University’s new four-year undergraduate programme “discriminatory” against disabled students, a city-based NGO has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the high court demanding a stay on the programme.
NGO Sambhavana has raised objections on various counts, chief among them being that two mandatory foundation courses based on mathematics and science would be a hurdle for visually-challenged students.
“Traditionally, such students are discouraged from taking maths and science after class eight. With the university making these foundation courses compulsory, which will require prior knowledge of these subjects, it would be unfair to the students if requisite arrangements are not made in advance,” said Vikas Gupta, joint secretary of the organization and an assistant professor in history department of DU.
Another major concern of the organization is access to sufficient reading materials for such students such as Braille textbooks, e-texts or audio texts. “Even currently there aren’t enough resources available for such students and it is unlikely that this will be resolved under the four-year course since it is a new programme and will have new study material,” said Gupta.
The organization has also claimed that the course was not adequately deliberated upon with disabled teachers and students. “There was no representation of visually-challenged teachers in the 61-member task force set up to devise the new programme,” said Gupta.
The NGO though conceded that it had not met the DU vice chancellor specifically on their problems with the new programme.
“Though not related to the new program, the university has ignored various representations regarding problems of disabled students and teachers in general. Thus, we had no choice but to ask the court for urgent intervention.”
They have demanded a dialogue between the administration and disabled teachers/students on the issue, accessibility to suitable learning material, bridge courses for disabled students to help them and trained teachers for handling these courses. University sources said they were not aware of such a writ petition but said they were doing their best to accommodate such students.