Shivaji Nagar gets school for kids with special needs
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) inaugurated the Mumbadevi Shivaji Nagar Municipal School for children with special needs on Friday morning.
“This is the first time he will go to a school,” said six-year-old Mohammad Kamran’s mother, Shahaja Kamran. “He has not started talking yet, just plays the whole day,” she said at the inauguration ceremony.
Geeta Gupta, mother of 12-year-old Ankit, said she was relieved as it will be a lot easier to take Ankit to school every day. She added that she would have to travel from Govandi to Kurla, which was tough on her as Ankit had a tendency to run away. “It was difficult to take him to school as he would run away from station. But now I can just walk him to school,” said Geeta.
Both Ankit and Mohammad suffer from mental disorders since birth.
According to Apnalaya, an NGO working in the slum clusters of Shivaji Nagar in Govandi, there are 33 children with special needs who are of school-going age, but were unable to access education due to inability to pay fees, cost of transportation and loss of daily wage for the parent who escorts the child to school.
The school will temporarily run from a classroom inside the premises of Shivaji Nagar, BMC School No. 1, between January and March 2020. The school will initially have one teacher and auxiliary staff, before expanding it based on the needs of the community.
Gargi Mhatre, beat officer (special education) of BMC, said, “As of now, BMC is running 18 schools for children with special needs in 17 wards. We had to shut down a school in Mumbadevi as the number of children with special needs reduced. We have shifted that school to Shivaji Nagar and are working with community organisations like Apnalaya and Urmi here.”
While BMC accepts children with special needs even in regular schools, Mhatre said BMC has recognised the need for children with mental illnesses to attend special schools in order to make them better equipped with life skills.
As per data, there are 12,000 children with special needs studying in BMC schools.