SSA trains 140 teachers to understand children with special needs

“In our school, we have children with autism studying with other children. After this training, we have the courage and skills to take care of them. We won’t get angry or put them in the last row. Now, we understand them. (Earlier), we didn’t know.”

This transformation in Prasad K.V.L.N., a teacher in Government Higher Primary School, Sajankady, Puttur, comes after a 10-day training programme organised by the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).

As many as 140 teachers from various government schools in the district attended the programme aimed to sensitise them so that no child with special needs — irrespective of the kind, category and degree of disability — is left behind. Some children with special needs (CWSN) might have one predominant disability with associated difficulties.

The training was an attempt to empower teachers as part of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, which mandates every school must have one teacher who is CWSN-friendly, and every child must get barrier-free education, said N. Shivaprakash, Co-ordinator, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. “We cannot have a child with low vision or hearing-impaired seated in the last row,” he said.

With the implementation of the RTE, more children, including CWSN, are joining regular schools, so teachers must know how to take care of them. The training sensitised the teachers to 10 disabilities defined by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), with visits to special schools and interaction with doctors and specialists, Mr. Shivaprakash said.

Hanumanthappa, teacher, Government Higher Primary School, Mavinakatte, Belthangady, said the training, especially about identifying children with special needs and referring them early to the district psychologist, was helpful. “Earlier, the attitude was to send away the child to a special school,” he said.

Juliet, teacher, Government Primary School, Bantwal, said helping a child with special needs get access to education requires teamwork from students, doctors, psychologists and, especially parents.

Mr. Prasad said, “This (information) is not there in D.Ed... The training can help in every house.” Teachers can tell Accredited Social Health Activists, health centres or doctors visiting districts from special schools, about challenged children, he said.

Irene, Inclusive Education Resource Teacher, Mangalore Urban, said the training is for teachers of regular schools and is required because RTE emphasises inclusive education. The training helps teachers handle cerebral palsy, Down’s Syndrome, muscular dystrophy, speech and hearing problems and autism.

District schools get physio and psychologist

SSA has appointed a physiotherapist and a psychologist for the district to help parents of children with special needs. While teachers said that a physiotherapist and a psychologist are needed for every block, Priya, District Physiotherapist, SSA, said Sullia and Belthangady need physiotherapists more.

N. Shivaprakash, Co-ordinator, SSA said, “Surely, the need is there… a speech trainer is also required.” Ms. Anupama said professional screening of children is necessary to find if a child with special needs could be included in a regular class.

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