PALAKKAD: The latest order states that for availing themselves of the concessions, candidates with learning disabilities should submit certificates issued by the medical board comprising nominees of District Medical Officers. However, the medical boards don’t issue certificates for dyslexic students, holding that learning disabilities are temporary.
According to Priya, government doctors sign on a form issued by the Department of Education which can be used only for SSLC exams. Learning disabled students don’t have to submit disability certificates till they reach Class IX. The students have difficulty in all the areas of learning such as perception, cognition, understanding, reasoning, reading, writing, doing mathematical calculations, attention and concentration. Therefore, Priya said, a permanent certificate which can be used throughout the children’s lifetime is needed.
Ajith Sajeendran, principal of Vigyan Valley Public School, Ernakulam, concurred saying learning disabilities are a permanent condition, and that their manifestations could change as the children grow up.
In the West, learning-disability certificates are issued based on how adversely a student is affected while taking exams after a detailed diagnosis at a very young age to ensure that the disabilities don’t lead to comorbid disorders. And though the government order states that the percentage of disability should be specified in the certificate, experts say learning disabilities cannot be measured in percentage.
Therefore, the department’s policy of giving concessions only to those with 40 per cent disability cannot be applied here, they pointed out.
Visually impaired, hearing impaired, orthopaedically handicapped, mentally retarded students and those with cerebral palsy, who form only 1-2 per cent of school-going children in the state, get all concessions, while dyslexic children, who constitute 10-15 per cent of the students, allegedly get a raw deal.
Integrated Education for Disabled Children Director R Rajan said the new criteria were introduced following widespread complaints that schools were misusing learning-disability certificates to increase their pass percentage. However, Ajith said hundreds of dyslexic students had already got caught in the labyrinth of regulations.Students with learning disabilities have difficulties learning languages but have average or above-average IQs and may excel in other areas such as sports, arts and computers. It is suggested that students with learning-disabilities be allowed to take exams in their areas of excellence.