Thanks to the nonchalance of the director general school education (DGSE), the district has only one physiotherapist for 734 disabled children being taught under the inclusive education for the disabled (IED) of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).
Consequently, while these children, who are students of Classes 1 to 8, need daily physiotherapy, this single physiotherapist is able to visit them only once every month, sometimes even lesser.
While the SSA aims to provide eight years of quality education to special children by integrating them in regular schools, the project is not getting required support from the DGSE office, which is supposed to recruit adequate physiotherapists.
The poor state of affairs is reflected in the fact that only one physiotherapist has been hired for 1,171 primary and upper primary schools located in 19 blocks of the district. Each block has around 60 schools, and the single physiotherapist is able to visit only two schools a day.
As a result, resource teachers, who teach these students, are going the extra mile and helping them with physiotherapy. However, with them not being trained in rehabilitating the disabled, resource teachers are not competent enough to do the job.
Talking to Hindustan Times, a resource teacher, on the condition of anonymity, said, “There is only physiotherapist in the district who is catering to 734 disabled children. It is naturally not possible for her to attend these students at every block. As a result, resource teachers provide physiotherapy to children, but we are not trained in it.”
Another resource person, who wished not to be named, said, “The block I am handling has 31 children who need physiotherapy. But as I am not an expert in it, these children don't receive the required help. Though we follow instructions and help these children, there is a dire need for adequate physiotherapists to facilitate these children's recovery.”
District education officer, elementary, Ranjit Singh Malhi, said, “I know there is a problem as number of children are more as compared to only one physiotherapist in every district. But the hiring of more physiotherapists is in the hands of higher authorities only.”
When contacted, Tarnpreet Kaur, physiotherapist in the district, said, “According to the instructions from DGSE office in Chandigarh, I have to visit two schools every day. It is very difficult to visit so many children, as a result I am able to visit one child only after a month. These children need regular exercise for fast recovery. But I am helpless.”
She added that the number of disabled children were more in blocks like Mangat-1, 2, 3 and Ludhiana 1, 2, 3. Resource teachers have been provided training to make these children exercise and help them do activities, but of course these teachers were not specialised to the job of a physiotherapist, Kaur said.