CHENNAI: A day after the State government declared all 8.6 lakh registered Class 12 students as passed in the results, disability rights activists demand that, students with learning disabilities, who appear as private candidates, must also be given exemption from writing the exam.
“Students with learning disabilities study in special schools and appear as private candidates for the exam. They do not get to write the exam on behalf of the school. However, they attend classes and study just like other registered students. That is why these students too must be exempted from writing exams,” said P Thyagarajan, an activist from T Nagar.
The State government ordered that students who are not satisfied with the results will be given the option to take up the board exams, along with 39,000 private candidates, including children with learning disabilities. The exam will be conducted when the situation is conducive for the same (likely in September or October). This, in itself, is discriminatory, pointed out TMN Deepak of the December 3 Movement. “Everyone must have the same rule.
If others are exempted from writing the exam, even these students must be exempted. It is creating a lot of pressure on the students.” He said that in a legal case, on the same issue last year, the Madras High Court ruled that the government could come up with a mechanism to evaluate their performance and grade them. Parents are worried that their children might contract the virus if they step outside and also the mental pressure that exams create during a pandemic is huge. “It is very difficult for students with learning disabilities to even understand the pandemic. Online classes are very difficult for these children and we have to teach them everything from scratch. We are doubtful how much my child will be able to grasp,” said L Prathima, mother of a Class 12 student with autism.
They said children cannot wear masks all the time and may not cooperate with Covid-19 tests before the exam. With all these prevalent issues, interacting with scribe is another major challenge. An official from the School Education Department said the exams could not be cancelled as the assessment for students with special needs was different from that of mainstream school students. However, they have taken the complaint into notice.