'Differently-abled students should be able to fit into the mainstream' | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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'Differently-abled students should be able to fit into the mainstream'

Vishwas Bhalerao, 21, had quit studying in 2004. This year, he will be among the 1,002 vision- impaired students who are appearing for the SSC board exams.

mumbai Updated: Mar 07, 2012 02:00 IST
Mugdha Variyar

Vishwas Bhalerao, 21, had quit studying in 2004. This year, he will be among the 1,002 vision- impaired students who are appearing for the SSC board exams.

"After I left school, I took up some small tasks, and did clerical work at a bank in Bhiwandi for close to two years. I finally decided I must take the SSC exams in order to take up a special diploma in computers in the future," said Bhalerao, who lives in Worli and at present attends a workshop held by the National Association for the Blind.

As the figures from the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education reveal, the number of differently-abled students who have applied for the concessions for the board exams this year has increased by 15% for SSC and 29% for HSC respectively as compared to last year.

Pallavi Shankar, program manager for the education department at the National Association for the Blind, feels the rise may be because more people today have become aware of the importance of educational qualifications to secure good jobs. "It is necessary for differently-abled people to fit into the mainstream. This is one of the reasons why the number of students appearing for board exams externally has increased," Shankar said.

While this may partly explain the rise in the number of differently-abled students who will write the board exams this year, there may not necessarily be a clear trend in the figures. Snehal Joshi, a Class 10 teacher at the Happy Home and School for the Blind, Worli, said the numbers keep fluctuating every year. "It (the figures) depends on the number of students who are promoted from the previous batches. Some batches have fewer students, while some have more," Joshi said.

Access to special training, particularly after Class 10, has also led many differently-abled to join the mainstream. Lata Nayak, principal of Sanskardham Academy Junior College, Goregaon, the first dedicated junior college for the differently-abled in the state, said, "Students can now learn from special instructors, such as sign language experts. Earlier, many students would opt for odd jobs after Class 10 since they found it tough to fit in with the regular teaching in colleges."

Fifteen students from the college, largely comprising the hearing impaired, will be appearing for the HSC exams, an increase from only nine in the college's previous batch. The college began in 2009 and has enrolled close to 70 students so far.