In a major development, the Maharashtra government on Friday declared a list of facilities to be given to students with special needs from class I to XII. More importantly, the state has designed these facilities scientifically addressing specific needs of different types of special students. The objective is to allow special students equal opportunities of holistic development and that these students will be able to take education in regular schools under concept of inclusive education.
The state government feels that in order to effectively implement inclusive education, it is important that students with special needs are given additional facilities to appear for examinations as well as in their passing criteria. Following this, a new set of special facilities have been designed by the education department, which offer a range of means to students with special needs. Under the new structure, for the first time older writers will be allowed to students who need writers to appear for examination. Other facilities will include providing extra time, different parameters for evaluation as well as grace marks for passing, choices in subjects – especially languages, suitable infrastructure, use of technology such as computer, tape-recorders, calculators among all special students, admission to nearest school and having a board exam center in the same school.
All stakeholders have welcomed the state government’s new decision, but they have also observed that most of the facilities already exist.
Nand Kumar, secretary of school education department, stated, “The main objective behind bringing these new set of facilities is to bring special students at par with other students allowing them equal opportunities. Realizing this a committee was formed in order to bring in well-thought facilities to help special students following that new set of facilities and regulations for special students has been declared.” While the state has designed a very descriptive and detailed guideline for allotting these facilities, schools will be the final authorities to take the decision on level of disabilities in order to allot appropriate facilities.
Principal of HVB Academy School, C R Pathak said, “It is welcoming that the state has brought in such detailed and well explained facilities for students with special needs. However, most of them already exist in schools. Extra time and other arrangements such as a writer, teacher’s help, counselor, special educators, etc. are already given by schools.”
Expert on the subject, Dr Harish Shetty, however, has a different opinion. He noted, “While the state board has been much pro-active in identifying and helping children with special needs, schools have failed the system to a great extent. Only few school are able to correctly identify students with learning disabilities, let alone be helping them in studies. Thankfully government has realized this and has come out with a streamlined set of facilities for schools. This will create major awareness among schools who until now had a much casual approach toward the subject.”