Resource centres for disabled school children yet to take off
Nearly two years after the Delhi government announced 14 resource centres for school children with disabilities, the facilities are yet to see the light of day.
In addition to teaching facilities delivered by Special Education teachers in Delhi government schools, the resource centres would provide services of physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists and clinical psychologists.
When details were sought about the operational status of these resource centres, director of education Binay Bhushan said, “We are in the process of getting the manpower and it should take another one month. The centres are almost ready and they are likely to be operational after vacations.”
Students under Children with Special Needs categories suffering from autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, speech and language disability, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, hearing impaired, severe specific learning disabilities will get intensive services in these resource centres.
Another official from the inclusive education branch said that coordinating between school shifts and the sessions at resource centres was also proving to be a challenge as due to lack of infrastructure, some buildings have schools running in double shifts.
The directorate is also planning to create 17 more such centres. “We did district and cluster wise mapping of schools and will begin with 31 resource centres for Delhi government school students. If need be, we can increase the number of centres later,” Bhushan said.
Dr. Ajay Kumar Singh, the state coordinator for Inclusive Education Branch, said that one resource centre would cover 35 Delhi government schools. “Each centre will have four professional therapists and one resource centre coordinator who would coordinate with the special education teachers in government schools to assess the child’s learning abilities and the work,” he said.
Singh further explained that each of the four professionals— speech therapist, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, and clinical psychologist—would hold eight sessions per day of 45 minutes each taking the minimum number of sessions to 32 per day.
“The four categories of professionals will give their own work and do their own interventions. Say if a child has speech problem, the speech therapist would do their own interventions,” Singh said. In order to tackle the problem of doubleshifts, Singh said they devised a policy that the students studying in the morning shifts would come in the evening and viceversa.
“We want to make sure that students do not have to leave the school premises and miss regular classes. There will be a timetable for their sessions in the resource centres as well in consultation with the special education teacher who would provide assessment on their learning stage.”
Government officials said there are over 12,000 disabled students in Delhi government schools and out of the 1,747 special educators needed for the government-run schools, only 411 regular teachers and 618 guest teachers have been appointed so far.
They added that appointments for 279 regular teachers was currently underway.