KOCHI: With restrictions on classroom learning in place, differently-abled children are facing many difficulties. Compared to their peers in normal schools, special kids need consistent care mentally, physically and emotionally.
Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), a non-profit organisation that works with government agencies for the protection of children, had sought the help of the Kerala State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (KeSCPCR).
In his petition, state co-ordinator Prasreen Kunnamppalli stated that though the Kerala government took enough measures to ensure that children in various schools are receiving uninterrupted lessons online, kids with learning disabilities don’t get these benefits.
1,30,798 special children under 19
According to the Disability Census Report of 2015, there are 1,30,798 differently-abled children under the age of 19 in Kerala. Of them, 21,533 are intellectually disabled, 8,697 suffer speech and language disabilities and 6,833 have learning disabilities. Though the Samagra Shiksha started ‘White Board’ a special online class project for the differently-abled children from June last year, many are yet to receive its full benefit, says Prasreen.
“There are some initiatives from the government and individual schools, but nothing has made a major impact. What we need is a unified effort, where parents or guardians are also trained and equipped to take care of these children. Families are to be motivated all the time. However, when these parents themselves are suffering from Covid or job loss, it could have major implications in these kids,” he said.
Door-to-door surveys and training risky
Prasreen added that special kids undergo various therapies, and when these sessions stop abruptly, it affects the development of that child. “Door-to-door surveys and training are risky during this pandemic. In speech therapy, a child learns through lip movement, which is difficult when we use masks. So, novel methods are needed to help these children,” the state coordinator of BBA added.
The child rights commission had directed the public education secretary, director, chief executive officer of Kite Victors and the regional officer of the Central Board of Secondary Education to take immediate measures to include special children in online education. Though the government formed a committee to study the issues of the special children who could not benefit from the online education, it was in vain, said an official.