MANGALORE: A recent study has revealed that 52 teachers (16.6 per cent) of a total 314 teachers from 32 schools in Mangalore, who were part of the exercise, were not even aware of the term dyslexia.
Of the rest, two thirds (92.3 per cent) had inadequate knowledge. “Our study, ‘Awareness and knowledge of dyslexia among elementary school teachers in India’, revealed that awareness and knowledge among elementary school teachers was poor,” said Dr Anil Shetty of the Department of Paediatrics, Fr Muller Medical College and Hospital.
The study by Dr Anil Shetty and B Sanjeev Rai was described as ‘original work’ and published in the May edition of peer-reviewed ‘Journal of Medical Science and Clinical Research’.
Dr Shetty, quoting previous studies, told Express that around 10 per cent of schoolchildren had some degree of dyslexia.
In developed countries, and the West in particular, dyslexia had been recognised as a major educational and medical problem. But sadly it has not received sufficient attention in developing countries, including India.
On why the study targeted elementary school teachers, Dr Shetty informed that these teachers play a crucial role in identifying dyslexia early and in creating awareness about learning disorders in the community. “Very few studies have been done on the knowledge of school teachers about learning disorders and hardly any involving dyslexia,” he noted.
Questionnaires were given to 314 elementary teachers from 32 schools. The teachers’ knowledge about dyslexia was assessed based on their responses to the 12 signs and symptoms of dyslexia. The survey revealed that 262 teachers were aware of the term, while only 24 teachers had prior training. Only one in three teachers had adequate knowledge of dyslexia.
For many (114 teachers), books were the source of information. Sixty-one teachers attributed their knowledge to movies (Taare Zameen Par) and the rest cited colleagues, television and newspapers. Only 24 teachers had prior training in identifying dyslexia. Over 90 per cent had not received any prior training.
Dr Shetty explains that training teachers about specific learning disorders and identifying them in children will have long-term dividends.
He quoted a study where a group of kindergarten and first grade teachers were trained in concepts of phonological and other related aspects. After a two-week study, researchers concluded that teachers had became more effective in classrooms and consequently, student learning had improved.
“During the survey, as many teachers had favoured training sessions on dyslexia, the Department of Paediatrics at Fr Muller Medical College and Hospital has begun conducting such workshops,” Dr Shetty informed.