Special Education in India
In pre-independence India, the country had a few special schools for children with intellectual impairment run by non-Government organizations, a few mentally retarded persons admitted to mental hospitals and many stayed at home. India has come a long way since Independence in the area of disability rehabilitation. There has been a shift in the lifestyle of people with disabilities from charity to right. It is no more the wish and choice of the giver to provide education, vocational training and rehabilitation, but the RIGHT of the person with disability to receive the support.
The Government of India has set up four national level institutes to effectively implement government schemes for persons with disabilities, to develop human resources to deal with disabilities, to develop service models, to conduct research and to document and disseminate information. These are:
National Institute of the Visually Handicapped, National institute for Hearing Handicapped, National Institute for orthopaedically handicapped and National Institute for the Mentally Handicapped. The Institute for Physically Handicapped and National Institute of Rehabilitation, Training and Research are two more national level institutes of rehabilitation. In addition, the District Rehabilitation Centre (DRC) scheme has been initiated in 10 States aiming at preventive measures and comprehensive rehabilitation. To train manpower for DRCs, four Regional Rehabilitation Training Centres have been established.
An important turning point has been the National Policy on Education (1986). This policy for the first time included a section on disabilities (Section 4.9). Briefly, the points made in this section include;
· Education of children with mild disabilities will be in regular schools
· Children with severe disabilities will be in special schools with hostel facilities in district headquarters.
· Vocationalization of education will be initiated.
· Teachers training programmes will be reoriented to include education of disabled children;
· All voluntary efforts will be encouraged.
Today there are about 37 diploma programmes in the field of special education and about 3 offering the B.Ed. degree. The Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI), a statutory body under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, regulates these courses for the education, training and management of persons with disabilities.
The District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) is another major step towards universalization of primary education wherein children with special needs are also included. A number of districts are implementing the programme. Inclusive education being the concept world over, the DPEP aims at including the children at primary level (up to Class V) with suitable teacher preparation, infrastructure facilities and aids and appliances. In addition, there are over l,100 special schools run by NGOs with Government support.
For more information contact
Dr Jayanthi Natarajan
Head, Dept of Special Education, National Inst for the Mentally Handicapped
Manovikas Nagar PO
(Excerpted from Intellectual Impairment in India: Government Policies and Legislation, prepared for MINDS ESCAP: Millennium Symposium on Intellectual Disability, Singapore, 28 Nov-2 Dec, 2000.)