The Supreme Court on Monday questioned the lack of separate schools and distinctly trained teachers for students who suffered from autism, blindness and deafness.
The apex court observed it was “impossible to think” that children, who were disabled or suffered from any kind of disability or were mentally challenged, could be imparted education in mainstream schools along with normal kids.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra said access to education was a fundamental right under Article 21A and there was a statutory obligation on the states to provide education under the Rights of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.
“We are of the prima facie view that the children with special needs have to be imparted education not only by special teachers but there have to be special schools for them,” the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said.
The bench was hearing a plea filed by Rajneesh Kumar Pandey through advocate Prashant Shukla, claiming lack of a sufficient number of special educators in Uttar Pradesh and other states to teach Children With Special Needs (CWSN).
The bench asked the Uttar Pradesh government to file an affidavit in four weeks and asked it to specify when the state would meet the obligation. It listed the matter for further hearing on November 27.
“When we say ‘disability’, we do not mean ‘disability’ as has been defined in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 includes certain physical disabilities which may not be a warrant for getting admission in special schools,” the bench said.
Additional Advocate General Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for UP, said the state was committed to impart education to the children with special needs. She said the government had already commenced the procedure of hiring12,000 teachers, of whom some would be engaged with children with special needs.
Counsel for Centre said under the new integrated education scheme, CWSN were being taught along with normal children. The Ministry of Human Resource Development and the UP government claimed that CWSN were being taught under the integrated scheme to ensure they do not get demoralised or feel alienated.
They contended that teaching such children along with the normal kids would boost the confidence of those disabled and stop their isolation from the normal environment in schools.
The petition, by 17 teachers who claimed to have undertaken the training required to teach CWSN, said to make Right to Education a success, it was necessary that qualified special educators were there in each school so that disabled kids could be prepared to face challenges of life.
The Punjab government was also faced with the same query from the bench in another similar matter in the apex court.