Friday, June 2, 2023

Plight of children with disabilities highlighted

Staff Reporter

A workshop on “Rights of children with disabilities (CWDs) related to education” highlighted the various challenges and difficulties faced by CWDs and the need for the state government to take effective action on those issues.
The workshop organised by Prodigals’ Home and supported by Office of the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (SCPWDs), Nagaland, Kohima was held at Tourist Lodge, Dimapur, Friday.
Delivering a keynote address, SCPWDs Nagaland, Diethono Nakhro lamented that CWDs was one of the most marginalised and excluded groups, and that there was “lack of data, not only in Nagaland, but everywhere”.
Pointing out that Nagaland state lacks data relating to disability, she said the state was still following 2011 Census data for disability and termed it as an “underestimated” data.
Speaking on inadequate inclusive schools in the state and the need for more inclusive schools, Nakhro lamented that even some of the few inclusive schools were not imparting proper inclusive education, and alleged the CWDs were even made to sit separately.
Pointing out that the current school education system was not inclusive, she said it was time to change the system and make education more accessible and inclusive. “We may have the best policies, but it all comes down to implementation. Best laws without implementing properly will be of no benefit”, said Nakhro.
She also expressed concern over CWDs dropping out of schools, and said children becoming conscious of their parent’s struggles combined with inaccessibility to facilities make it impossible for them to continue higher education. Speeches on the topic “Scenario of CWDs related to education” were delivered by joint secretary, NSDF Nagaland, Ngaugongbe and special educator, and headmistress, Bumblebee Inclusive School, Kohima, Kopele Tepa.
In his address, Ngaugongbe said education for PWDs and CWDs in the state was one of the biggest issues which the state government needed to pay more attention. Though state government had been making changes and assuring inclusive education, Ngaugongbe lamented that not enough attention was being given for appropriate intervention. Dwelling on the challenges faced by CWDs whilst pursuing education in the state, he cited access to information and admission, lack of special education, teaching and learning materials, scholarships, building accessibilities, lack of consultation with trained professionals, resource rooms in each Educational Block Resource Centre (EBRC), training for in-service teachers in inclusive education, etc., as some of the challenges.
Ngaugongbe suggested making inclusive education as part of B.Ed and DIET syllabus, consulting PWDs stakeholders for reforms in educational system, training and institute to be set up separately for special education degree or courses, and proper provisions and facilities for the PWDs.
Quoting 2011 census, Kopele Tepa said there are 29,631 PWDs in Nagaland, around 1.5% of total state population, and highlighted the importance of creating awareness about PWDs in schools, workspace and community as a whole.
Despite “a lot of talks and efforts” on inclusion, Tepa said she fails to understand why inclusion has somehow remained an “exclusive idea”, and why PWDs were not included on the “idea and discussion on inclusion”?
“Inclusion is not about what people with disability want but about what they need. People with disabilities have to be included in the planning and solution,” said Tepa. She also underscored the need for more trained professionals and schools in the state to open doors for PwDs, create more opportunities to get existing teachers trained within the state and create job opportunities and avenues for PWDs. Speaking on rights of CWDs related to education (RPWD Act 2016 and NEP 2020), panel lawyer, Dimapur District Legal Service Authority (DDLSA), Rokovitsu Khate said appropriate government and local authorities should ensure that all educational institutions funded or recognized by them provide inclusive education to CWDs. He also dwelled on specific measures to promote and facilitate inclusive education.
Speaking on inclusive education in Nagaland, deputy director, Department of School Education, Nellayappan B said the state has 35 special education teachers attached to EBRCs while admitting that it was “very less” for the entire state. He said Samagra Shiksha was also carrying out activities towards inclusive education and SCERT had been conducting training for teachers for special education. However, he admitted lack of follow-ups. The deputy director also briefed the gathering on Nagaland Education Project – The Lighthouse (NECTAR) Project.
The programme was chaired by Takonaro Lkr, invocation by Burning Ones Director (Youth Ministry), Kingdom Culture Church, Dimapur, Nathan Yanlem, welcome address was delivered by director, Prodigals Home, K Ela and benediction by Shalom Chophy.


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