Offering special education and medical care for mentally challenged children are emerging as a tough task for several underprivileged families in the district as the government is yet to put in place adequate arrangements.

A study by the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) says there are over 19,000 children in the district with special educational needs. Owing to the poor financial condition of the parents, over 1,800 such children are remaining uneducated. It is not just education that remains a challenge for this segment. Some of them are bedridden with serious illnesses. As per the study named ‘Candle,’ 1,017 children aged below 18 are bedridden. While 70 children suffer from visual and aural challenges, another 178 suffer from cerebral palsy. The remaining children suffer from autism, hyperactive disorders and various physical barriers, and cases of multiple challenges are not rare. Despite this, government-level initiatives to address the concerns of parents are inadequate.

Devaki Rani, a middle-aged woman from Mukkam, is one of such hapless parents. She is planning to sell off her last piece of land and the small house for taking care of her mentally challenged girl child. Since the death of her husband, she has been running from pillar to post for the care of her daughter whose condition has been worsening day by day. “If the government is not offering us some financial support, our toil won’t last long,” she says.

N.V. Saifunnisa, a daily wage worker from Nainanvalappu here, says that she has been struggling with her bedridden and mentally challenged daughter Ayisha Safna for the past 13 years.

The case of V.P. Malathi, an anganwadi worker from Pokkunnu, is more wretched as she is now taking care of her three mentally challenged siblings, including two women. She will not say that the government has not come in help for her. She gets a meagre monthly aid of Rs.800 to take care of these three persons.

C.P. Anil Kumar, secretary of the Parents Association for Intellectually Retarded (PAIR), says the survival of poor families with such children will be a challenging task in the days ahead without proper government aid. “We are placing our entire hope on the recently appointed commission to study the issue and submit recommendations to the government,” he adds.

  • District has 19,000 children with special educational needs

  • 1,800 special children remain uneducated