There are no principals and headmasters at the 17 special schools run by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), members of the civic body’s education committee have pointed out. BMC has been running these schools since 1965.
As many as 863 ‘intellectually disabled’ and mentally challenged students aged 5 to 18 are getting education in these 17 schools. BMC has been running these schools under the regular education board, as compared to the state government that operates special schools under the social justice department.
The education committee members have demanded that these schools be recognised by the state’s social welfare and justice department. The members allege that these schools are not getting the special provisions required to run special schools.
“There are a few special educators in these schools. However, regular teachers too have been posted in the schools. Some of these teachers are promoted as principals and headmasters and transferred to regular schools, while posts of principals in these special schools remain vacant,” said Shivnath Darade, a member of BMC education committee.
Darade has demanded special educators in all schools, besides special provisions for these schools in the education budget. “These schools do not have special toys and books meant for these children. Toys are taken from NGOs. No proper seating arrangements are available for these kids. They only have regular benches. These schools are operated from the first and second floors of regular BMC school buildings. Classes of these schools should be shifted to the ground floor,” he said. Darade has also demanded physiotherapy and speech therapy arrangements for the students.
According to experts, BMC also has a dedicated post in its education department to look after and deal with cases pertaining to these special schools.
“Despite the fact that there is an official to look after these schools, nothing is being done to improve the conditions of these schools. It is true that the civic body has not been sanctioning any separate budgetary provisions for these schools. The schools have been operating in this manner for years now. The children coming to these special schools belong to slums,” said Ramesh Joshi, general secretary of the Brihanmumbai Mahapalika Shikshak Sabha (BMSS).
BMC officials admitted these schools were going without principals or headmasters, but said the students were provided with everything they needed.
“BMC had set up these special schools one by one since 1965. These schools follow the regular education policies, but adapt them according to the requirements of its students. The students are provided with everything as per their needs. We do have special educators. Those schools where there are no special educators, teachers are trained,” said an official from the BMC’s education department.