There was a time when lack of awareness about learning disabilities (LD) made it difficult for children to survive in schools. In the last five years, even when school authorities have become more aware, students now face a new challenge of proving that they have LD to state board schools, as the tests can only be conducted in a handful of government hospitals.
The test takes about four months, and until then, the student is not given concession during exams. Representation Pic/Thinkstock
While there are many private centres in Mumbai that conduct tests to determine whether a child has LD or not, there are only three government hospitals with testing centres in the city. As a result, acquiring documents to prove that a child has LD from these centres becomes a long process, and many students end up losing out on the concessions allowed during exams.
“In case of central and international boards, they accept documents provided by private testing centres. However, the state board accepts only government testing centres’ documents. This makes it difficult for students to acquire the results on time, as the basic test takes anywhere between three to four months’ time,” informed Dr Harish Shetty, a psychiatrist.
Over the past few years, parents have knocked on the doors of various forums, against schools for not allowing concessions to their children with LD, as authorities wouldn’t accept test results approved by private testing centres. “Some schools have started a new trend of demanding a certificate every year. The process takes about four months, and till then, the child is not given any concession during exams,” added Chitra Iyer, a trustee from Forum for Autism (FFA).
Not easy for others
Even students from central and international boards, who move to state-run colleges after Std X, face the same obstacle. If their certificates are not approved from a government-run testing centre, they are not accepted.
“We have asked the state board to start accepting certificates of private testing centres, but there has been no development in the matter yet,” said Dr Shetty, adding, “Around 90 per cent of students with LD are not identified on time, and lose out on the much-needed concessions.”
The situation is even more challenging for students from vernacular boards, as there are few testing tools available at centres in languages other than English. Many Urdu-medium schools have collaborated to create a testing centre specifically for Urdu-speaking students.
“Our students lose out on concessions because they are sent back from testing centres, as they lacking the tools for vernacular languages,” said Najma Kazi, principal of Anjuman-I-Islam’s High School and Junior College and member of the Urdu Headmasters’ Association. The association has recently received funds from private donors to set up a testing centre for students from Urdu-medium schools.
Government hospitals where LD tests are conducted: