Micro study of RTE Act in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha schools shows exclusion of disabled children

Taking stock at the end of the third year of the implementation of the Right To Education (RTE) Act, a micro study carried out in the three states of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha on inclusion of children with disabilities in the government school system reveals that their enrolment in relation to all children continues to be less than one per cent.

The study found that though in all three states the administrative procedures were increasingly following the letter of the law under the Act, children with disabilities were still not being accepted into the system, clearly not making inclusion a goal post.

The report pointed out that children with disabilities still constituted one of the biggest groups of drop outs and out-of-school children. Often their admission was being stalled and the ‘push out’ factor was primarily the attitude of school authorities. “The lack of specialist teachers, rehabilitation facilities and personnel with the school system are adding to the feeling among schools that they do not know how to teach children with disabilities,” said the report.

It found that in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, though entitled, many children with disabilities were not given transport to access school. In Odisha, out of the 50 school going children studied, only 10 were provided an escort allowance which encouraged them to take the child to school. However, parents of children who were under the home-based education programme complained that teachers did not show up at their homes.

In all three states, most often children were not admitted to school due to their disability contrary to the provisions of the Act. In some schools the admission was subject to a family member accompanying the child and sitting in the school all day. Parents interviewed for the study gave several reasons why their children had to drop out including poverty, lack of facilities for special children and inadequate care in the schools.

The report points out that though the RTE Act includes the right of children with disabilities to free and compulsory elementary education and India ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities where the state is mandated to ensure inclusive education, the micro study indicates “trends that call for the attention of policy makers, organisations, educationists and activists.”

The study was carried out by National RTE forum member Aarth-Astha in Delhi along with Sparc-India from Uttar Pradesh and Aaina from Odisha, taking a detailed sample of 50 children from each State to look at the reality at the grassroots.

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