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Delhi government’s efforts to ensure all government school students can read by the time they are in Class VIII has thrown up challenges that run deep. Working with children who are in class VI, VII and VIII, teachers have realised some of them may have undiagnosed learning disabilities, said sources.
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The government is planning to test children for dyslexia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and other learning disabilities for diagnosis, and to create special education plans for them, the sources added.
The government’s Chunauti 2018 policy, under which all children in government schools are being given special attention for improving their reading capabilities, aims to turn all children into ‘readers’ by November 14. The children have been divided into groups of ‘readers’ and ‘non-readers’ and targeted programmes for both aim to bring them to the level of the class they are in. When the children were surveyed in July, it was found that 70 per cent of Class VI students could not read a paragraph from their text books.
Teachers and officials said cases of learning disabilities were noticed during the process of familiarising children with letters and words. “… We had not realised this during classroom teaching as there was no time or system to talk to children individually,” said a principal.
Atishi Marlena, adviser to Education Minister Manish Sisodia, said, “Most schools now have at least one counsellor. In addition, we have hired over 100 new emotional and vocational guidance counsellors. Children will be tested for learning disabilities. Earlier, there was no plan or method to identify and help these students. Now that teachers have to spend time with each child individually, these issues are being recognised. Individual study and development plans will be created for all children who need it.”
She said the task of making all children ‘readers’ by November 14 was challenging, but schools were working hard to meet the deadline.