Board officials claim concessions given to children with special needs is one of the reasons for the rise in the numbers of such students appearing for SSC and HSC exam with each passing year
Concessions for students with various forms of disabilities during board exams have been around for some time now. Hence, it comes as little surprise that with each passing year the number of children with learning, physical and mental disabilities joining mainstream schools and appearing for board exams, is on the rise.
“After the Supreme Court order, all education boards were clearly asked to make concessions available for students with various forms of disability. Learning Disability (LD) and autism were also added into this spectrum, and this has surely helped spread more awareness on the same.
We believe this had been one of the reasons that more number of students with disabilities are taking exams along with their other classmates at a regular school,” said Laxmikant Pande, chairperson, Mumbai divisional board.
This year, over 3,000 students from Mumbai division will be appearing for their board exams under various forms of disabilities, including LD, physically handicapped, deaf and dumb, blind, multiple disability, and autism.
While availability of concessions is one of the reasons for this increase in numbers, parent groups have also highlighted the fact that the process for approval of writers has also become easier over the years.
“This makes a huge difference for us, because getting certificates for concessions itself is a lengthy process. The board has made the protocol less tedious, which is a welcome development. However, it is not very forthcoming on other issues,” said Anju Mehta, a parent whose son is partially blind and will be appearing for SSC board exam next month.
Recently, state Education Minister Vinod Tawde had announced that the state would be keeping a batch of writers for those students who need them at the last minute, in case of an emergency.
‘Lot needs to be done’
While board officials claim they are doing every possible thing to help students with special needs, activists believe that the number of such students appearing for board exams is less in comparison to the able-bodied students. “I personally know of so many parents who had approached the testing centres at Nair Hospital this year for concessions for their autistic children.
I believe the board still needs to work hard to ensure that more and more children are encouraged to get through regular schools, irrespective of their disability,” said Chitra Iyer, from the Forum For Autism (FFA). She also highlighted the need for schools to be more welcoming towards students with various forms of disabilities.
No of students taking SSC exams from Mumbai division
No of students taking HSC exams from Mumbai division