One of the more heartening aspects of this year’s SSC results is not the fact that the state had the highest pass percentage ever, or that so many students surpassed expectations and performed better than expected. Simply, it is that a sizeable number of physically and mentally challenged students, the hearing-impaired, blind, autistic, and dyslexic children did fairly well.
In a society which is still to become disabled-friendly, or even disabled-aware, these students face great challenges in all walks of life, including in schools and colleges. From the system itself, to schools that may not have full knowledge or the capability of dealing with kids with special needs, it is uphill all the way for students and their parents too. Still, it is heartening to note that things are changing in small ways and greater awareness and acceptance is creeping in as people start to comprehend what exactly is the meaning of mentally challenged (where the disability is not immediately apparent), and counsellors and experts are roped in by schools to address special needs.
Now that the students have done well in their Std X exams, one must ensure that this leads to further options and avenues that accommodate their special needs. The need of the hour is more technical colleges, more institutions that are equipped to teach them. There has to be an uptick in preparing them for the larger picture — life roles and life goals.
It is heartening to see that so many establishments are actually making a conscious effort to rope in persons with special needs in the workforce. No condescension or concessions here; they are recruited on their ability to perform. There are certain tasks that they may be especially adept at, and it is time that we tap these resources to the maximum. This results in an invaluable boost to their self-esteem and gives the workforce diversity and value addition. Let us strive to pave the way for these persons to have the same kind of opportunities as everyone else. Then, we are surely on our way to a more ‘equal’ society.