Differently abled children enthused by city resident Deepa Malik’s silver medal in the recent Rio Paralympics would face hurdles at the first step itself as Gurgaon’s private and government schools lack the facilities to cater to such children.
Facilities for para-athletes and even regular sportspersons are almost non-existent in Gurgaon’s over 500 government schools. Ramesh Sharma, whose son goes to a government school in Chakkarpur, said even educational facilities are not up to the mark so expecting facilities for differently abled children is a far cry.
“My son has polio, but he wants to play cricket. He is talented like other children, but the school has no facilities. There are some places in Delhi for children like him, but I do not have the money,” said Sharma, a taxi driver.
However, even parents who may have the resources to send their differently abled children to private schools would face a lack of facilities. Although the city boasts of over 50 top private schools, barring a couple of them none of these schools are equipped to handle the sporting demands of special children.
Malik, who has visited a number of schools in Delhi-NCR, said facilities for para-athletes are non-existent in these schools. “We are going to bring awareness among school managements and parents so that para-athletes can get facilities for training,” she said.
However, private schools in Gurgaon said they focus more on sensitising teachers and students about issues involving diffrently abled children.
“We make sure our students visit special schools. We also call the children from these schools to perform in our school. Some of our students do summer ‘apprenticeship’ programs in schools for differently abled students,” said Rupa Chakravarty, Principal, Suncity World School.
Scottish High International School in Gurgaon is involved with the Special Olympics and encourages differently abled children to participate in sports and games. “We face challenges as far as infrastructure is concerned and this is prevalent across the board, but the schools are evolving and improving,” said Sudha Goyal, director, Scottish High International school.
While schools admitted that there is a need for improvement, they also said that the number of differently abled children in their schools is not large enough to create special infrastructure for them.
Aparna Erry, principal, DAV Public School, Sector 14, said, “The government should make a centralised training centre in the city where children from all schools can come and practice. The schools can provide them training and coaches, but the government will have to build the enabling environment and infrastructure.”
In this vein, Haryana sports minister Anil Vij had recently announced the Haryana Paralympic Bhawan in Faridabad. He said it will be a centralised facility where differently abled children from all parts of the state can avail residential and training facilities. “The state government will do everything to help para-athletes,” he said.