Noting that 7.8 million children under the age of 19, accounting for two per cent of the child population, are living with disabilities and that their population is disproportionately left out of the education system as compared to the overall proportion of out-of-school children, a report released by UNESCO on Wednesday has recommended amendments to the Right to Education Act.
The report states that in India, 75 per cent of five-year olds with disabilities and a quarter of children with disabilities in the age group of five to 19 years do not attend any educational institution.
Also, when it comes to schooling, more girls with disabilities get left behind than boys. In order to address these concerns, the report recommends amendments to the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, so that it can be aligned with the 2016 Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act. The report notes that while the two laws provide a comprehensive legal framework, “there remain some ambiguities in terms of where children with disabilities should study and who should teach them, gaps in terms of appropriate norms and standards applicable to all educational institutions…”
It also attributes the low numbers of such children in schools to the lack of “accessible physical infrastructure, school processes, assistive technologies, information and communication technology and devices”. Meanwhile, disabilities rights organisation National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled has issued a statement on Wednesday, terming the New Education Policy “profoundly regressive and overwhelmingly undemocratic”.
“The draft has not been made available in text version, Braille or audio version despite the government claiming that ‘access’ is a ‘guiding principle’,” said NRPD general secretary Muralidharan.