KOCHI: Twelve-year-old Ashish (name changed) had been studying in a CBSE-affiliated private school in Kochi since kindergarten. After the results of Class VII were announced, the boy and his family were in for a rude shock. Though he had passed the exams, the management asked him to change schools ostensibly because he had scored marks below the class average. The real reason: The school authorities had assessed him to be having a learning disability while in primary school. It was deemed, in the long-run, his performance would not be in keeping with the school’s ‘prestige’.
Similar is the case with many children with learning disabilities studying in private schools.
The attitude of many CBSE or CISCE-affiliated schools run by private managements in the state has been grossly discriminatory towards such children.
“Schools are indifferent about the future of these children. All they care about is the pass percentage of the school,” said Ashish’s mother. When ‘Express’ called a prominent school in Kochi in the guise of a parent seeking admission for her child with a learning disability, the school management responded: “This is not a special school. We do not take in children with special needs.” Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights chairperson Shobha Koshy said the schools’ obsession with ‘high performance’ is indeed leaving a bad taste.
“These students are exceptionally bright students who have a difficulty in comprehending things, unlike the normal kids. But they are not a priority for the schools competing for full ‘A Plus’ scores. Very few managements are willing to acknowledge students with learning disabilities. It’s as if the schools are embarrassed by these children.”
A CBSE circular dated January 24, 2017, advised affiliated schools “to ensure no child with special needs is denied admission in Mainstream Education” and to modify teaching techniques to meet their needs