Noting irregularities in admission to children with special needs, the education department has ordered private schools in the city to “implement inclusive education”, threatening them with penalties if they don’t comply. The order, issued on August 28, calls on schools to comply with provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act, 2016, which guarantees inclusive education to children with disabilities in all educational institutes.
The Act directs that the government and local authorities endeavour that all schools run and recognised by them provide inclusive education, and it lists the duties of educational institutes. These include admitting them without discrimination; making buildings, campus and various facilities accessible; and providing necessary support “individualised or otherwise”.
The order also refers to a 2013 Delhi High Court order which asks all schools to make their premises barrier-free, and gave them two years to appoint special educators. The court had also ordered that “no school shall refuse admission to children with disability for the reason of not employing Special Educators or not providing barrier free access in the school premises”.
The circular noted that despite the order and the provisions of the Act, irregularities in admissions to children with special needs have been noted. “We receive a variety of complaints from parents… Many are discouraged by schools from admitting their children citing that they do not have the facilities. There are cases in which schools may be inclusive for one particular disability but say they are ill-equipped for another… There needs to be a strategy to deal with this issue,” said State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilites T D Dhariyal.
The education department has directed principals of all recognised private schools to examine the admission records of 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 to ensure that all admissions under the CWSN category have been carried out according to guidelines, and that admitted students are being provided with “effective inclusive education” as per RPWD Act. Schools are required to reserve 3% seats at entry-level for children with special needs, admissions to which are conducted through centralised draw of lots.
On Wednesday, The Indian Express had reported that DPS Dwarka had denied admission to two children, including an autistic six-year-old boy, who had been allotted the school through draw of lots, citing that its existing infrastructure rendered their admission unfeasible.