After releasing figures indicating that all colleges in the city are disabled-friendly, now the directorate of higher education (DHE) is trying to ensure that no injustice is done to disabled students in educational institutions. In a circular sent to all affiliated and deemed universities on December 8, DHE has reminded them that The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, mandates that colleges must provide equal opportunities and promote disabled persons to receive access to education.
“It is required to keep three per cent reservation in university and college admissions as well as hostels for disabled students. Hence, this circular is being sent to ask colleges to ensure that this rule is being followed strictly. Also to ensure that stress is reduced on such students, it is important to take a sympathetic view towards their needs,” said Dr Vijay Narkhede, joint director of higher education.
The letter addressed to registrars of various universities like Savitribai Phule Pune University, Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth, Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University, Deccan College, Gokhale College of Politics and Economics, amongst others, says that a review should be taken that the admission rule has been followed and a report of the action taken should be sent to the DHE office.
A few days ago, The Indian Express had reported DHE data that said of 167 colleges in Pune, 153 colleges were found to have either ramps or disabled-friendly toilets. While eight of these colleges had ramps but not toilets for the differently abled, five had only toilets. The data had come under severe criticism from both students as well as those working in the field of disability who called it difficult to digest.
Now, in a separate circular issued the same day, the DHE has reminded colleges once again of the basic facilities to be provided such as ramps, handle bar and western commode in toilets, bar on staircases needed to make campus accessible to disabled persons. A report has also been sought from colleges on what facilities are being provided.