The number of girls with disabilities in schools was "fewer" than boys, a UNESCO report Wednesday said and highlighted that the number of enrolled children drops significantly with each successive level of schooling. Three-fourths of the children with disabilities at the age of five years and one-fourth between 5-19 years do not go to any educational institution, the report said.
The 2019 "State of the Education Report for India: Children with Disabilities" took into account the 2011 census, according to which there are 78,64,636 children with disability in India constituting 1.7 per cent of the total child population. The report highlighting accomplishments and challenges with regards to the right to education of children with disabilities (CWDs) was launched here on Wednesday.
"The number of children enrolled in school drops significantly with each successive level of schooling. There are fewer girls with disabilities in schools than boys with disabilities in schools. "Significant gaps therefore remain, even though successive government schemes and programs have brought large numbers of children with disabilities into schools," the report said.
It said only 61 per cent of CWDs aged between 5 and 19 were attending an educational institution compared to the overall figure of 71 per cent when all children are considered. "Around 12 per cent of CWDs dropped out of school, which is comparable with the overall percentage of dropouts among all children. 27 per cent of CWDs never attended any educational institution, as opposed to the overall figure of 17 per cent when the entire child population is taken into account," it added.
It said a large number of children with disabilities do not go to regular schools but are enrolled at the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS). A review of enrolment figures at NIOS shows a decline for most categories of disabilities between 2009 and 2015.
"The biggest group of CWDs enrolling with NIOS over the years have been those with learning disabilities. While there has been a drop in enrolment of students with locomotor and visual impairments, there has been a rise in those with multiple disabilities. "The percentage of children attending schools is the lowest among those with multiple disabilities, mental illnesses and mental retardation," the report said.
The report acknowledged that inclusive education is complex to implement and requires a fine understanding of diverse needs of children and their families across different contexts. "India has made considerable progress in terms of putting in place a robust legal framework and a range of programmes and schemes that have improved enrolment rates of children with disabilities in schools.
"However, further measures are needed to ensure quality education for every child to achieve the goals and targets of agenda 2030 and more specifically Sustainable Development Goal 4," it said. According to the UNESCO report, the attitude of parents and teachers towards including children with disabilities into mainstream education is also crucial to accomplish the goal of inclusive education besides accessibility to physical infrastructure, processes in the school, assistive and ICT technology and devices being essential resources.
The report has made certain recommendations to improve the state of education for CWDs including amending the RTE Act to better align with the RPWD Act by including specific concerns of education of such children. Establish a coordinating mechanism under HRD Ministry for effective convergence of all education programmes of children with disabilities, ensuring specific and adequate financial allocation in education budgets to meet the learning needs of children with disabilities, strengthening data systems to make them robust and reliable and useful for planning are among the recommendations made.
"Massively expand the use of information technology for the education of children with disabilities. Give a chance to every child and leave no child with disability behind. "Transform teaching practices to aid the inclusion of diverse learners. Overcome stereotypes and build positive dispositions towards children with disabilities, both in the classroom and beyond," the report said.
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