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Special kids not feeling at ‘home’ in school? Here is the alternative 

Parents feel society lacks awareness about homeschooling as an alternative to mainstream education.

pune Updated: Apr 17, 2018 15:10 IST
Ananya Barua
Ananya Barua
Hindustan Times, Pune
Ekansh Trust, a non-profit organisation working to empower persons with disabilities, organised the meeting to discuss the experiences of homeschooling parents and spread awareness about the alternatives to parents of children with special needs.(HT Representative Photo)

Amidst practical irregularities in imparting relevant education to children under thegovernment’s Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, homeschooling could be a possible alternative, especially for children with special needs, said Anita Narayan Iyer, founder of Ekansh Trust, at a meeting on Sunday.

Ekansh Trust, anon-profit organisation working to empower persons with disabilities, organised the meeting to discuss the experiences of homeschooling parents and spread awareness about the alternatives to parents of children with special needs.

“At the end of the day, the basis of homeschooling is to establish a tuning with the children so as to help them through education in the best suitable way, especially for children with special needs. It is more about creating that comfortable environment and flexibility, with emphasis on relevant education,” said one of the homeschooling parents at the event who requested anonymity.

Talking about exams as a common query with respect to homeschooling, the parent added,“We need to understand why exactly we take exams, because it is not about the marks. In a class of 30-40 students, it is a way for the teachers to know that his or her students are understanding whatever is being taught. In homeschooling, you do not need that because you have one-on-one interaction with your child at all times and so you know what they can and cannot understand. However, to progress later in life, for higher education and a job, they do require milestone certificates of Class 10 and 12, which can now be done privately.”

She emphasised that in order to prepare children for the boards, parents can begin teaching the basics from the age of 12-13.

Another parent, Jyotsna Kumar, who has been homeschooling her 16-year-old daughter for the past eight years after she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and learning disability at birth, said that the provision of National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) is a way out.

“My daughter was born with a rare congenital heart defect that needed corrective heart surgery and she acquired cerebral palsy soon after. Following this, I home-schooled her in the early years till she was around eight years old. We wanted her to explore and socialise. We put her into mainstream schools that although allowed access to resource room, but could not really help her. She could not cope up with it academically and that is when we introduced her to open-schooling through National Institute of Open Schooling,” said Kumar. Her daughter, now preparing for her Class 12 boards privately, appeared for theNational Institute of Open Schooling under the CBSE and ICSE.

“Every child is different and has different strengths and weaknesses, in academics and in life. So, as parents, we need to realise it and help them harness their strengths instead of pushing and pressurising them. In this regard, National Institute of Open Schooling provided that window of flexibility to sit for one exam at a time of convenience,” said Kumar.

Parents pointed out that lack of empathy among the teachers, inadequate awareness and lack of sensitivity among students makes it difficult for such students to study in mainstream schools. Barkha Palve, a second year law graduate, who worked at Sai School of Excellence, Pimple Saudagar, as a shadow teacher with special children.

“I was not at all equipped to be a shadow teacher for these children because I hardly knew about the problems, but even after I tried to find my way through helping the students, the administration was hell bent to treat the children unfairly by expecting the same level of comprehensive abilities as a regular child. When they were not able to deliver so, they blatantly failed them, asking the parents to send them to special schools instead,” saidPalve.

First Published: Apr 17, 2018 15:09 IST