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Guiding light

education Updated: Feb 19, 2013 17:09 IST
National Institute For The Mentally Handicapped


The lowdown

A special educator is qualified to train and teach children with disabilities. These include children with intellectual impairment, cerebral palsy, physical disabilities, auditory impairment, autism and behavioural and learning disorders. A special educator basically provides plus curriculum training to children with special needs. These include braille training to the visually impaired, communication training to the hearing impaired, etc. Technological aids such as audio books, CDs etc are used today in schools for special children. Curriculum, too, can be tweaked to suit individual needs and some students are given light coursework. In India, there is dearth of schools or educators, though the number is increasing. It is now seen as a lucrative profession. A lot of people are also seeing the possibility of entrepreneurship and exploring opportunities to set up their own centres. Special children take time to respond to your teaching and care so you should not expect instant rewards. This is an ideal career for someone who is compassionate and open to challenges.

Tentative work schedule of a special educator can be as follows:
9am-11am: Session - I includes home-based education which includes counselling parents, therapy activity, self-help skills, learning skills, etc
11am-1pm: Session - II includes preparing teaching material. Schedule a school visit which includes teaching mainstreamed children with special needs, peer group training, orientation to regular teachers
1pm - 2pm: Lunch
2pm - 5pm: Guide parents

The payoff
A special educator can earn the equivalent of what a teacher gets at the primary level, which is about Rs. 22,000 to Rs. 25,000 a month. For trained graduate teachers it can go up to Rs. 30,000. Teachers under contract as per the Sarva Shiksha Abhyan get up to about Rs. 22,000 a month. Some international schools pay over Rs. 35,000 a month to special educators

* Positive attitude
* Patience and ability to establish a good rapport with parents and children
* Should be skilled in understanding the learning needs of children and associated behavioural problems
* Good communicative skills as you have to deal with parents too
* Good sense of humour

Getting there
After passing Class 12, one can go for a two-year DEd in special education in any category related to disability. Else, get a diploma in community-based rehabilitation (DCBR) or multi rehabilitation worker (MRW) with six months certificate course in education of children with special needs. Further, go for a postgraduate diploma in community-based rehabilitation (PGDCBR) with six months certificate course in education of children with special needs. A person with any other equivalent qualification approved by the Rehabilitation Council of India can become a special educator

Institutes and URLs
* Amar Jyoti Rehabilitation and Research Centre, New Delhi
* YMCA Institute for Special Education, New Delhi
* Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
* Ali Yavar Jung National Institute for the Hearing Handicapped, Mumbai
* AWH Institute for the Mentally Handicapped, Calicut
* National Institute For The Mentally Handicapped, Secunderabad

Pros and cons
* Great satisfaction can be derived from working with special children and being instrumental in improving their lives
* At times it can be frustrating

Never doubt that a small group of intelligent, committed people can change the world. Indeed it’s the only thing that ever lasts -- Anupriya Chadha, chief consultant - inclusive education, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan