Social Welfare and Education Minister Kiran Walia now holds both the departments which will play a key role in making schools in the city barrier-free and disabled-friendly. In an interview to Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar, she discusses the plans and policies that are expected to improve the lot of students....
The Delhi High Court has called for making all private schools barrier-free by March 2013-end. What is the Government doing in this regard?
We are aware of the issue and would be convening a meeting of the officials concerned to chart out a course of action in this regard. We want 100 per cent compliance with the directive and believe that structural changes should be brought about in schools for the betterment of all the students and staff.
How are the private schools faring?
Social welfare is the responsibility of all and some of the private schools have already made their environment barrier-free. There are some I can recall off hand. It is imperative that the other schools also get their basics right to meet the needs of children.
What is the condition in government schools vis-à-vis barrier-free environment?
We have ramps and toilets in most of the schools. However, we would be working on the designs and improving them to make the government schools also barrier-free. We believe integration of children with special needs in mainstream schools is critical for their growth and well-being. Besides we also have teachers and principals who have physical disabilities and thus such a move would benefit all.
The High Court has also asked for having at least two special educators in all the schools. Is the Delhi Government doing anything in this regard?
We already have two special educators in several of our schools to cater to children with special needs. The process of recruitment of 900 such permanent teachers through the Delhi Subordinate Services Selection Board is already on. But since that is a time-consuming process, we would be going ahead and recruiting the requisite number as guest teachers, as we have been doing with teachers for various subjects.