(By Rushikesh Gawade)
The Disabilities commissioner of Maharashtra wants a policy document drawn up on what facilities educational institutions should provide to differently abled students, especially those living with mental disabilities. The Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) is planning to lead the initiative.
As a first step, the SPPU authorities organised a special study meeting on Tuesday, which was arranged by the Students’ Welfare Commission of the SPPU and the National Service Scheme (NSS), on the request of the Maharashtra Disability Welfare Commissionerate.
During the meeting, State Disabilities Commissioner Nitin Patil said state universities can play an important role in helping the students with mental illnesses. Patil underlined the importance of synchronised efforts while working towards mitigating mental disabilities. “College students face mental distress due to various reasons and universities can positively intervene to help them in tackling the problems. Various university departments — the departments of psychology, health science and NSS — can effectively work together to identify the disabilities in students and help them through it.”
SPPU Vice-Chancellor Dr Nitin Karmalkar said the varsity would gladly take up the role of a leader in sensitising other universities about the mental health problems faced by students. “The infrastructure we have at the SPPU can be positively used towards these efforts,” said Karmalkar. He also stressed on the importance of communication among students on college campuses, stating that rural-urban gap, along with economic disparities, may create communication blockages. These, he added, can only be overcome if colleges take up more initiatives in this direction.
During the meeting, it was decided that a core group comprising government officials, university faculties and representatives of the NGOs, would be formulated for the purpose. The group will also work for other target groups, such as senior citizens and slum dwellers. Other departments of the varsity would also offer their contribution towards their initiative.