After the state government introduced 30% reservation for women in the first year of junior colleges (FYJC) from this academic year, educators and child development specialists have demanded an increase in the quota for students with disabilities. They suggested starting special courses for the differently-abled students, which will concentrate on skill-based training instead of focusing too much on academics.
The government notified ‘The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act’ — a new legislation increasing the recognised types of disabilities from seven to 21 — in December 2016. One of the significant aspects of the newly enacted law is that it has included acid attack victims and people suffering from Parkinsons disease as persons with disabilities.
Although the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has recently extended its special concessions to students with disabilities recognised under the new Act, the Maharashtra state board is yet to implement the newly enacted law, depriving the needy students of their rights, said educators.
Ved Ahinave (17) who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis is the case in point. He was not allowed to use a scribe to write his HSC exam this year. “We submitted medical certificates including one from Sir JJ Hospital in Byculla but the board refused to give him any concession because they did not have provision for arthritis,” said Vishwas Ahinave, the student’s father. “He finally received an hour’s extra-time after we showed that he is also a slow learner,” he added.
Stating that disabled students are losing out on quality school education and college admissions, educators from Mumbai have sent their recommendations to education minister Vinod Tawde and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Similarly, students with disabilities are finding it tough to secure admission to junior colleges, despite having a 3% quota in the FYJC online admission process. Since this quota is shared by physically disabled and learning disabled (LD) students, officials said that a majority of the reserved seats get filled up by LD students alone because of increased awareness on its testing and certification centres.
“Visually-impaired or hearing impaired students often approach us at the end of the admission process complaining that they haven’t secured admission to any college, LD students score comparatively higher and get the seats” said BB Chavan, deputy director of education, Mumbai region.
In comparison, certification for many of the disabilities still remains difficult, said Dr Harish Shetty, senior psychiatrist, Dr LH Hiranandani Foundation Hospital in Powai. Even now, only those candidates with doctors’ certificate can avail the facility but there are a few certification centres. “The Maharashtra state board needs to adopt the new act soon so that more students can benefit,” said Shetty.