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Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019

Delhi schools told to ensure infra for the differently abled

The specifications for such infrastructure has been given in a handbook recently compiled by the directorate. The education department is distributing such handbooks across Delhi government schools to ensure barrier- free accessibility in the school buildings for children with disabilities.

education Updated: May 20, 2019 12:00 IST
Kainat Sarfaraz
Kainat Sarfaraz
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
An official from the inclusive education branch (IEB) of the directorate said that so far, 200 government schools under Directorate of Education (DOE) had received the handbooks
An official from the inclusive education branch (IEB) of the directorate said that so far, 200 government schools under Directorate of Education (DOE) had received the handbooks(File)
         

To promote inclusive education in all Delhi government schools, the Directorate of Education (DOE) has directed all heads of government schools to maintain, provide, renovate, and repair existing infrastructure to ensure they are friendly to the differently- abled.

“This shall be done through Public Works Department by generating EOR (extra ordinary repair),” a recent DOE circular said adding that no further construction should be done without ensuring the same. “Any leniency or non-compliance of this circular/order will be viewed seriously,” it added.

The specifications for such infrastructure has been given in a handbook recently compiled by the directorate. The education department is distributing such handbooks across Delhi government schools to ensure barrier-free accessibility in the school buildings for children with disabilities.

An official from the inclusive education branch (IEB) of the directorate said that so far, 200 government schools under Directorate of Education (DOE) had received the handbooks. “The principals and teachers need to be sensitised. They need guidelines on how to counsel the children, their parents and how to care for them,” the official said while explaining the reason behind the distribution of such handbooks.

Along with talking about different types of disabilities, the book also talks about the rights and entitlements for children with disabilities and the penalties for offences committed against persons with disabilities. The handbook also specifies the space to be allocated for people using mobility devices as well as those walking with assistance. It also gives specifications on toilets, walks and paths, tactile pavers, corridors and ramps, door hardware, dropped kerbs, staircases, and drinking water fountain among other things.

Two hard copies of the handbook are being distributed to all government schools. According to an official IEB circular, the handbook was prepared by adopting the guidelines of Ministry of Urban development, Government of India and the handbook on barrier free accessibility by Central Public Work Department as well as in consultation with the Office of Delhi State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities.

The circular also mentions Section 16(ii) and Section 89 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 which mandates that the government should make efforts to provide inclusive education in schools funded or recognized by it and any person who contravenes any of the provisions of this Act should be made to pay a fine.

“Instead of distributing handbooks, the government should audit schools to see what needs to be done. Sometimes, we do symbolic stuff and tokenism. For instance, one special educator is not going to solve the problem. One must think of a universal design and approach that every child can use and access,” Radhika Alkazi, founder of NGO ASTHA which works with children and people with disabilities. “This is band-aid approach. We need to look at overall situation like how is the child going to get to the school from say slum areas. The government says so many schools have been built but are they all accessible to all children?”

First Published: May 20, 2019 12:00 IST

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