A tribute to those dedicated to children with special needs...
Being a teacher myself, 5th of September holds a special place. Not just because I myself find fulfilment in this vocation but more than that for every teacher who had contributed towards my being. But then it is also a fact that not many in this country are as fortunate as me, as forget transformational teachers, for a majority of population even basic education is still a distant dream.
Particularly in the rural India, thousands of children do not even have access to school, and even if few fortunate ones have access to schools, they do not have the access to basic infrastructure. And on the top of that, be it rural or urban schools, good teachers have become almost a national casualty!! And as a result of all this the entire concept of schooling or formal education becomes so futile in vast parts of economically challenged rural India and within the urban slum dwellers that most parents force their children to opt out of schools and join hands to add to their family income.
It is not that the initiatives have not been coming from the government at the Centre. But the commensurate outcomes of the policies and various budgetary allocations have not been up to the mark – that too only with respect to urban and semi-urban areas. With respect to rural areas there has been a blatant neglect. And the neglect has not just created a deep geographical divide but also a physiological and psychological one. What I mean here is that there has literally been no effort to create conducive infrastructure for children with special needs, irrespective of whether they belong to urban or rural India. According to some reports India is a home to almost 40 to 80 million people with special needs. Of which almost 30 per cent are children from the age group of 0 to 14! And what is most unfortunate is the glaring fact that 90 per cent of these children do not have access to any form of education.
Though there are some individuals and NGOs who are active in terms to creating learning opportunities for these children but then most of these initiatives are restricted to few cities only. It is not just that these children lack equal opportunities but on top of that face multiple challenges within the family and society at large. And just in case if the child hails from rural India, the situation gets even worse. It is reported that there are almost 30 out of 1000 children in the rural India who are mentally challenged, and for them the plight takes larger proportion on account of illiteracy coupled with socio-economic challenges.
Though in a country where education is still struggling with respect to reach and politics of reservation based on caste and religion, it is silly to expect equal opportunities to children with special needs. But then by not giving them the opportunity we are committing probably the biggest crime as these children can neither fight for their own cause nor can garner adequate support who can fight for their cause.
In an environment wherein none, including the government seem to be bothered with respect to these children, it is indeed an astounding effort for those individual teachers who have voluntarily dedicated their lives in supporting and educating these kids, who otherwise stand discriminated!! A special tribute to them on this teacher’s day!!