To utmost contentment for Dev Nath and his parents, the teenager had passed his class 10th exams with flying colours. He was on cloud nine because he had scored 84 marks in Science while his teachers told him that he cannot pass and that he was a bad student. The teachers said, he was not a smart student and pushed him out of the school.
He was dropped out of the school for two continues years before he passed his class 10th exams. The atrocity Dev was going through was not even his fault. He was a student with learning disability. Dev could not see. He was pursuing his education in a government school in the city. His teachers and school principal convinced him that he cannot clear his board exams like other students. However he is now pursuing higher secondary school at Vidya Sagar, a centre for special education and wants to work in the IT sector.
“When Dev joined us, he was psychologically broken down and his self-esteem was really poor. It took us three months to make him feel normal again. teachers from the school, took Dev to every play, talk show, concert and performance in the city in those three months, in order to expose him to the various career options he had,” said Kalpana Rao, the principal of Vidya Sagar.
“We didn’t need grand investments to re-integrate him into education. We just had to believe in him and had to invest a little extra time in him than usual. There at least 20 students like him who joined Vidya Sagar after dropping out of government schools,” said Kalpana.
Dev is not alone in this struggle of basic need (education). There are scores of students with disabilities who have been denied school education because of their disabilities. There were 1.36 lakh students with disabilities enrolled in government and aided schools in 2016-17.
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However, only ten of them received either a kit box, escort, or transport or more than one of them, according to the policy note of School Education Department 2017-18. Only 293 students were given braille study material although 18 per cent of all persons with disabilities are identified to have visual impairment according to 2011 census.
According to the census report, literacy rate among persons with disabilities is about 60 per cent, when the State has a rate of 80 per cent disables. However, literacy rate may not reflect reality in schools, as students with disabilities are forced to drop out, mostly around class 8, as they are promoted through classes without actual integration into main-stream education until then, pointed Sujatha Sriram, a special educator.