The annual exercise of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan (SSA) to identify school children with disabilities from both civic and private schools has shown that 8,155 children required special attention during 2010-11.The survey also revealed that while there are experts to treat problems like loss of vision and hearing and orthopaedic ailments,there are very few specialists to treat learning disabilities. A total of 714 children with learning disabilities were identified as part of the survey.
Head of the city family welfare bureau,PMC,Dr Anjali Sabne said there are 3.5 lakh children studying in 944 aided,non-aided,civic and private schools in the city. The teachers are trained to identify the children. After identification,ward medical officers are contacted in 144 medical wards to inspect schools. Minor ailments are referred to the OPD at PMC-run dispensaries while others are referred to specialists under the SSA.
In 2010-11,8,155 children needed attention,out of which 3,693 required specialists advice and treatment. A total of 714 were identified with learning disabilities while 185 were listed for minor and major operations. A total of 80 surgeries were performed under the scheme. Tricycles,wheelchairs,crutches,calipers,walking sticks,walkers,hearing aids and spectacles were provided to nearly 170 children with disabilities.
SSA coordinator for inclusive education,PMC,Shrikant Hingane said the programme has been under way since 2004. He said there were very few special educators to treat children with learning disabilities like dyslexia,dyscalculia and dysgraphia.
Dyslexia is a learning disability that manifests in the child or individual having difficulty with language skills,usually reading. Dyscalculia is a learning disability that is associated with inability to understand Math problems while dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects the persons ability to distinguish form and shapes in letters.
We had invited applications for just 30 sanctioned posts of mobile teachers who can teach children with various disabilities at home. Ten categories have been identified and while experts are available for three categories,there are few takers for the remaining, said Hingane who points out that this years budget for SSA is Rs 2.52 crore.
According to Hadapsar ward medical officer Dr Suryakant Deokar,most of the children identified under the SSA programme hail from poor families and parents tend to neglect them due to their work pressure. Hingane also said these patients cannot afford the cost of treatment in the private sector.