Liffy Thomas

CHENNAI: One of the most widely used curriculum in the country – Madras Development Programming System (MDPS) – for teaching persons with mental retardation is undergoing a revision.

Vijay Human Services, an organisation working with persons with mental retardation, which brought out the first Individualised Education Programme in 1975, will be ready with its latest version this December.

It would be a support-based model, based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), said P. Jeyachandran, a special educator and honorary director of Vijay Human Services who developed the special education programme for the State government.

According to Mr.Jeyachandran, the revision is essential as the whole concept of mental retardation has changed. From a medical issue to an education model to rights based model, today disability is considered as a social and human rights issue.

“Also, the central government has ratified UNCRPD and we are answerable as to how it is being implemented,” he said.

There are around 3,400 institutions in the country working with persons with mental retardation, with 310 schools in Tamil Nadu.

The support system would orient special educators, teachers, parents and society to provide support in terms of communication, movement, social interaction, recreation and leisure activity.

Everyone speaks of support measures, but the child is invariably blamed for poor performance, he said.

According to special educators working in the field, it is the simplicity, brevity and preciseness in MDPS that has made the curriculum popular.

“In the U.S., when they develop any definition for MR they go through the process for 10 years to see how best it is suited to the current needs. Today, when we are trying to substitute terms such as moderate/mild/severely retarded with persons with limited support, persons with pervasive support, a revision talks about progress,” said Jaya Krishnaswamy, director, Madhuram Narayanan Centre for Exceptional Children.

Helping in the revision are parents and special educators who have been in the field for years. “Most of the special educators are our students. So, it is a continuous process where we interact to give the best functional curriculum,” said V. Vimala, principal of Bala Vihar Training School, who is helping Mr.Jeyachandran.