Slow learners will be allowed to use a writer only if they have a doctor’s recommendation in the upcoming Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) exams. This has upset child development specialists and parents, who had demanded extension of this facility to all slow learners.
A slow learner is below the average intelligence quotient and whose thinking skills have developed significantly slower than others of his/her age.
A government resolution issued last January revising the concessions offered to students with special needs, states that writers are allowed for Matimanda or mentally-challenged children with an IQ below 70 and those with learning disabilities (LD). But slow learners do not fall in any of the categories as they have an IQ between 70 and 90 and so, they are not given writers.
After education experts intervened in the matter, the board this year decided to form a panel to approve writers for slow learners on a case-by-case basis. “Our rules do not permit writers for slow learners so we have asked divisional boards to form a panel, which will decide whether a writer should be assigned to a particular student or not,” said Gangadhar Mhamane, chairperson of the Maharashtra State Board Of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education.
The Mumbai divisional board, which includes Thane, Palghar and Raigad, has started granting approvals to those with doctor’s recommendation. “We have given slow learners permission only if their doctor has recommended it,” said Siddheshwar Chandekar, divisional secretary of the board.
But unlike LD students, who are certified by government approved hospitals in the city, there is no such official certification centre for slow learners. “In absence of certification, we do not know how to ascertain whether a candidate is genuine and incapable of writing on his own,” said Chandekar.
Medical experts plan to take up the issue with education minister Vinod Tawde asking him to support slow learners. “We are in talks with the education officials and hope to get a favourable response within the next few days,” said Dr Harish Shetty, senior psychiatrist, Dr LH Hiranandani Foundation Hospital, Powai.