THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: For the past five years, three teachers with a specialisation in hearing impairment have been teaching children with visual disability at the Government Blind School (GBS), near DPI, Thiruvananthapuram.
That may not sound like an anomaly in a state which has 725 Integrated Education (IED) Resource Teachers expected to deal with disabilities they have no specialisation in.
Five years ago, a total of five teachers were transferred from GVHSS for Deaf in DPI to GBS, because of the sudden fall in the school’s strength after the introduction of integrated education. Many parents had shifted children from the special school to general schools. Two of the five teachers could go back to GVHSS for Deaf, because of retirement vacancies.
Reji Cherian Mathew, one of the transferred teachers, said: “I have sent several written requests to the DPI and Education Secretary, saying that this is an unfair posting and that our expertise should be effectively used. Either we should be given permanent postings in a general school as IED resource teachers, or we should be taken back in GVHSS for Deaf. And if they plan to retain us in GBS, we should be given formal training in Braille.”
The transferred teachers did eventually learn Braille and how. Says Lathi Vinsla, one of the three teachers: “When I came to GBS, I took the help of my students and learnt Braille from them.” The teachers had passed a course in mobility training, certified by National Association of the Blind. The situation is only slightly better for IED Resource Teachers, who are provided crash courses in various disabilities. DPI Director Gopalakrishna Bhat said in-service training provided to IED Resource Teachers are successful as there have been no complaints so far.
R Rajan, DPI Deputy Director (Integrated Education) said all resource teachers were given a five-day training in various disabilties before the schools reopened this year.
Five days may not be enough to learn mobility training and Braille; or to learn the difference in vibrations of various letters; or to understand intellectual disability. Without such skills, how can an IED Resource Teacher be expected to guide a general teacher to teach children with different disabilities?
The idea of integrated education can be implemented successfully only with more support systems. But according to Rajan it is impossible to appoint one teacher each for every disability.
“The ideal ratio of IED Resource Teacher to students with disability would be 1:5. This means we would need 5,000 IED resource persons. But the proposals sent to the Central Government seeking more vacancies have never yielded a favourable result. Last year, we had asked for an increase of 100 vacancies, but it was refused,” he said.