Hyderabad: Parents of children with disabilities, apart from teachers and activists dealing with such kids, are worried over the emphasis the state government is giving to online education.
They are categorical that mere online learning will put children with disabilities at a major disadvantage, jeopardising their future in the long run.
This is the strong belief of, among others, P. Anasuya, faculty member of National Institute of Visually Handicapped (NIVH) at Bowenpally, which is part of the National Institute for Empowerment of Persons with Intellectual Disability (NIEPID).
Mother of a visually impaired son herself, she teaches children “daily living skills”, such as eating, bathing, walking without running into objects and even wearing clothes. All such instructions need “touch and feel” guidance.
Anasuya recalls her struggle in teaching students to differentiate between idli rava and Bombay rava.
“If I was with them, I can help them understand the difference in texture by guiding their hands. It is an absolute challenge doing this on phone,” she maintains. As a result, Anasuya is unable to teach more than five students at a time on the phone.
Srinivasulu of Hyderabad-based Network of Persons with Disabilities Organisation (NPDO) says Covid-19 pandemic has made life much tougher for children with disabilities.
“Even during ordinary times, families rarely give importance to a disabled child’s education. With thrust on online education, such families will ask their kids to forget all about education,” Srinivasulu points out.
Kolli Nageshwar Rao of All India Disabled Persons Rights Forum (AIDPR) feels Telangana government’s measures leave much to be desired. “The government set up a helpline for disabled persons in April, but did not bother to publicise it. No one in rural areas even knows about the availability of a helpline number,” he says.
A survey by NGO Swabhiman and National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) paints a grim scenario with regard to the future of children with disabilities if online education is insisted upon.
The survey in which over 2,000 children, parents and teachers participated, predicts that 43.53 percent of disabled children will drop out from getting educated just because of the sole reason that they do not have a smartphone....