The Central government's stand on education of mentally-challenged students at upper primary and secondary levels has once again affected the implementation of integrated education schemes for children with special needs in the State.
Although the State had presented a proposal for schemes worth around Rs.18 crore under the Centrally-sponsored Integrated Education of the Disabled at Secondary Stage (IEDSS) project for the year 2010-11, the State received sanction only for Rs.15.5 crore.
Around Rs.2.5 crore earmarked for the implementation of educational schemes for mentally-challenged students has not been sanctioned. This, despite a favourable report submitted by the team of experts appointed by the Central government to study the system of education imparted for such students in Kerala.
The Central government stand that mentally-challenged students are generally unable to cope with regular schooling after standard six had cost the State around Rs.3 crore during the allocation of IEDSS fund in the previous academic year as well, when around 1.800 such students had appeared for the SSLC examinations.
Following the request of the State government, a team led by National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities chairperson Poonam Natarajan, had visited the State last year to study the scenario of education of mentally-challenged students.
The report submitted by the team was evaluated during the 2010-11 IEDSS annual plan appraisal meeting held in New Delhi in November 2010, following which the meeting also approved that the system of education in Kerala for mentally-challenged students.
However, the Centre differed from the view and stated that the expert team had to visit a few more States where the education system of mentally-challenged students was not up to the mark before taking a final decision.
‘‘The report of the national team was extremely positive and they applauded the educational achievements of mentally-challenged students in Kerala. But the Centre's stand has been that Kerala alone cannot be granted funds in this context without taking a national view and as per the national policy,'' said Director of Public Instruction A.P.M. Mohammed Hanish. The expert team was expected to present its final report before March 31.
Integrated Education for Disabled Cell (IEDC) deputy director R. Rajan said around 3,000 differently-abled students, including mentally-challenged students, would be appearing for the SSLC examination this year.
Centre's stand has cost the State around Rs.3 crore during the IEDSS fund allocation.