The proposed Centre for Disability Studies is expected to develop new educational technologies for different categories of the differently-abled persons.

In order to focus academic and social attention on the challenges faced by differently-abled persons, the Department of Education has drawn up a proposal to institute a Centre of Excellence for Disability Studies.

Education Minister M. A. Baby chaired the first meeting of a high-level committee constituted to explore the idea of setting up such a Centre.

Now, the government is likely to constitute a core committee that would draw up a detailed project for setting up the centre and for offering graduate, postgraduate, and research programmes in disability studies. The core committee is also expected to give the government an idea of the budgetary support required for instituting the centre and other means of mobilising funds for the Centre sustained operations.

Those who were present at the meeting include Dr. G. N. Karna member, NHRC Core Group on Disability and Chairman, Working Group on Disability for 11th Five Year Plan (Planning Commission), Dr. G. Lokanadha Reddy Dean, School of Education and Human Resource Development, Dravidian University, Kuppam and K. N. Panikkar the Vice-Chairman of the Kerala State Higher Education Council.

“The centre shall focus on studies pertaining to the social, cultural, political, economic and psychological studies of the differently abled.

The centre should also provide the government with necessary academic and documentary support for policy formulation and for designing specific programmes for the disabled,” the concept note for the Centre prepared by the government reads.

The government initially wanted to name the new centre as one for the ‘study of the differently-abled’. At the committee meeting however, Dr. Karna told Mr. Baby that the appropriate name would be a centre for disability studies. Officials who participated in the committee’s meeting in Thiruvananthapuram told The Hindu-EducationPlus that the government does not see the proposed centre as just an academic body. “There are plans to have a resource and information centre, a rehabilitation centre, counselling centre and capacity building centre at the proposed centre of excellence. So in addition to attracting the best of talents for disability studies, the centre would also be a platform for reaching the fruits of such study and research to persons with disabilities,” an official present at the meeting explained.

According to the concept note, the Centre is expected to develop new educational technologies for different categories of the differently-abled persons in both the vocational and general education streams.

“The Centre could work in close collaboration with the newly-formed Centre for Engineering Research,” the concept note says.

The Centre, proposed to be set up under the LBS, would also be the nodal agency for developing curricula for disability studies and would also provide academic backup to various social inclusion programmes of the government.

If the government’s plans materialise, public universities in the State would have a major role to play in disability studies.

The proposed Resource and Information Centre would, in all probability, have a presence in all universities in the State. There would also be such a centre in one institution affiliated to a university in every district in Kerala.

Inter-disciplinary centres for disability studies would initially be established in one or two universities in the State.

Moreover, there would also be an inter-university centre for disability studies which will coordinate academic activities in this discipline. Undergraduate and postgraduate students would be allowed to take one or two credits pertaining to disability studies from such centre.

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