One step down a long and bumpy road

One step down a long and bumpy road

New Delhi: On Wednesday, the Delhi high court issued an order instructing all schools run by the Delhi government and civic bodies to employ two special educators for physically disabled students. The directive came in response to a public interest litigation that was filed by Delhi based NGO, Social Jurist in 2003.

Although the Persons With Disability Act was passed in 1995, many of its provisions including section 30, which states that the government shall provide a comprehensive education scheme for children with disabilities, have yet to be implemented. Disability activists have long emphasized the need for a greater emphasis on making educational institutions accessible to the disabled.

The Delhi high court’s recent directive comes just a few weeks after the Right to Education Bill was passed. The bill did not sit well with disability rights activists, who complained that it did not contain any special provisions addressing the needs of disabled students.

While the directive is a step in the right direction, activists warn that it should not be seen as a panacea to the larger problem of integrating disabled children in regular schools.

“Educators need to be hired to address the needs of disabled students in schools. Which is very important to ensure that students with disabilities are in school. But that’s only a necessary condition for integration in the true sense, not a sufficient one," says Janaki Pillai, director of the Chennai based NGO Ability Foundation. “Integration needs a mindset change, an attitudinal shift, a culture of acceptance and celebration of diversity. Sensitive school administrators, teachers, and parents of non disabled children too all play a key role in this."

To learn more about this issue, Mint talked to well known disability rights activist, Javed Abidi. Click here to listen to the interview.