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Spotting dyslexia: teachers score poor marks

The Johar family from Shrirampur,Ahmednagar,know little about the 11-year-old Delhi girl Shanno Khan,a dyslexic,who died on April 17,an alleged victim of corporal punishment.

Written by Renitha Raveendran | Pune |
May 3, 2009 11:18:21 pm

The Johar family from Shrirampur,Ahmednagar,know little about the 11-year-old Delhi girl Shanno Khan,a dyslexic,who died on April 17,an alleged victim of corporal punishment.

But it relates to the hardship faced by Punit Johar,the youngest in the family,which prompted them to shift to Pune three years ago.

Punit,18,who has a learning disability,was punished harshly several times by teachers. He was thrown out of school. “He was beaten and insulted. Teachers didn’t have the patience to deal with him,” said his sister Ruchita Johar. After shifting to Pune,he completed Class X through the National Institute of Open Schooling.

There are many children whose learning disabilities are misconstrued as carelessness and waywardness. “There is lack of awareness among both teachers and parents. Some schools even request parents to remove their wards from the school. There are close to 15 per cent children with learning disabilities in the city. Five children come to us for counselling every day,” said Masarrat S Tavawala,director and principal,Sunderji’s Institutions,which has an Enrichment Opportunity Centre For Children With Specific Learning Difficulties.

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According to her,although most of the city schools have clinical psychologists and special cells to deal with such cases,their functioning is a matter of concern. Lack of awareness among parents often leads to such children being sent to tuition classes,which makes things worse. “An informal study conducted by us shows there are plenty of such children in tuition centers. The trauma they undergo there even leads them to fall prey to bad habits,” added Tavawala.

The situation in government schools and vernacular schools is probably worse,said Bindu Patni,head,The Morris Child Development Centre,KEM Hospital. “We have conducted awareness programmes for teachers from Corporation schools in association with the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). Most of them said though they had come across such children,they didn’t know it was a learning disorder. The government is doing minimal in terms of creating awareness among teachers,” she added.

Madhavi Kapur,former principal of Revachand Bhojwani Academy,said the BEd courses are outdated and teachers are not trained to handle such children. “Though government has provisions for such children,our education system is not very receptive,” she said. But Sudhakar Tambe,Education Officer of PMC Education Board,is optimistic. “We have been conducting awareness programmes under Sarva Siksha Abhiyan for government school teachers and there is an increase in awareness among teachers,” he said.

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First published on: 03-05-2009 at 11:18:21 pm

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