Little Lalit proudly takes out his notebook and shows the pages where he has written alphabets up till ‘L’, and numbers up till 10. Having been turned away from multiple state-run schools, the six-year-old hearing impaired boy has learnt to write them outside formal classrooms. According to the boy’s father Ram Kumar (37), who works as a domestic labourer in Pitampura, schools have refused to admit Lalit “because of his condition”.
“We have been trying get him admitted into a school since the beginning of the year. We couldn’t do so earlier because he was sick and had to undergo a surgery. I first went to a corporation school in Rohini, about two months ago. The principal told us that the school is not for ‘children like him’. Following this, I took him to a government school in Rohini, but there too, we were told that they could not take a child ‘like him’,” Kumar claimed.
Kumar added that he tried to get Lalit admitted to another school in Rohini, but it did not go through either. “I went to the school in January…they told me that they would admit him when the new session begins. When I went back in April, they told me that I needed to provide the results of his brain test too. It is not easy to get these tests done — we have to wait for months in government hospitals and we can’t afford the test in private hospitals,” he said.
According to the Director of Education (DoE) Sanjay Goel, the Right to Education Act mandates that there should be “no question of turning away any child.”
“There is a special education teacher in every government school to cater to children with disabilities. Sometimes, heads of schools might turn a child away if the 40 children per teacher ratio is saturated… but adjustments can be made on humanitarian grounds. If parents have such problems, they can approach Directorate officials,” he said.
According to Kumar, Lalit was operated for hydrocephaly when he was one year old, and in 2014, he underwent a surgery for his cleft lip.
Lalit’s two elder sisters study in a local convent school and go for tuition in the evening. Lalit also goes to tuition along with his sisters, where, for a monthly fee of Rs 200, he is separately taught alphabets and numbers.
“He has been going to the nearest anganwadi for the last five months, but nobody teaches there. We don’t care which school and class he gets admitted to, we just want our children to receive education…,” said Deepmala (34), his mother.