At a time when the education department of the state boasts of initiating inclusive education for students with learning disabilities (LD), there are still many loopholes that mar the effective implementation of this policy. While increasing awareness about LD has led to better acceptance in schools, the same has not been the case in colleges.
Students with LD have the option to drop the second language till Std X. However, once they move to colleges, they are not provided the same concession. According to parents, most colleges do not have an option for students with LD to drop the second language for a vocational subject, leaving the children in the lurch. “My son was allowed to take up a vocational subject in school as he was struggling with the second language.
But we have checked with many colleges and not a single one gives the same option. What is my son supposed to do?” asked S Sen, father of an LD student who is currently in Std X. Many colleges have received applications from LD students, asking for the option of dropping the second language for another subject.
“Students with LD ask if they can pursue subjects like Computer Science (CS) or Information Technology (IT), which are bifocal subjects and are given to high scorers as per the junior college admissions process. How are we supposed to change the rules now?” said Marie Fernandes, principal of St Andrew’s College in Bandra. She added that students with LD, who find it difficult to cope with Hindi or Marathi, are given the option of French in her college.
While a few colleges in the city are open to providing LD and autistic students the option of taking up other vocational subjects, many find it difficult to add teachers and a new course in their college. “We have noticed that the number of students with LD applying for concessions have increased over the years.
While we are happy to provide all other concessions during exams, it becomes difficult for us to give them the option of a new subject. We are already short-staffed and providing a professor for a vocational subject that will be attended only by a handful of students can prove to be quite expensive,” said the principal of a college in Thane.
The management of K J Somaiya College of Science & Commerce recently decided to allow students with LD to drop the second language for a vocational subject, but on one condition. “We have asked students to manage classes on their own and we will take care of arranging for exams on the subject.
Otherwise, it becomes extremely difficult for the college to afford another teacher,” said Vijay Joshi, principal of the college. The principals of junior colleges feel that the state board should provide clear directions to them about the concessions that need to be given to students with LD. “We can’t take a call without their permission,” said Fernandes.