Empowered by the Right to Education (RTE) Act, a child with special needs can study in any mainstream school today. But unless class teachers are specially trained in handling and teaching such children, they will not be sensitive to their needs, say experts.
Though a special educator is needed for autistic, visually-challenged and hearing-impaired children, even regular teachers need to be able to identify, involve and teach them in a way that they understand, say experts. However, the government has not yet introduced training for teachers on special education.
Currently, teachers learn about special education through one module while studying for Bachelors of Education (BEd) or Diploma in Education (DEd). This module neither teaches how to handle specific disabilities nor has any practical element, said Arundhati Chavan, principal of Swayam Siddhi College of Education, Kalyan. “Teachers are not given any hands-on experience, they only learn about theories. This will not help a teacher in her class,’’ said Chavan.
A proposal to introduce mandatory regular training on inclusive education for regular teachers was submitted to the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) by its member Dr Mithu Alur, founder-chairperson of non-government organisation Able Disabled All People Together (ADAPT).
However, no step has been taken to implement it, says Alur. “We require short in-service courses for regular teachers. These courses will look at disabilities in detail and equip teachers to include such students in the classroom,’’ she said. Such courses are already offered by National Council of Education and Research Technology (NCERT) and National Council For Teacher Education (NCTE).
Experts feel that such courses might also create a positive mindset among schools and teachers towards special children. “Right now, schools are weary of admitting such children, especially autistic children. This is because they lack skilled teachers’’ said Alur.