Parents of children with special needs continue to go through hard times in getting their kids admitted in private schools in the twin capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu.
Education activists and parents alike point out that a majority of the private schools in Jammu as well as Srinagar lack the required infrastructure to admit children with special needs. However, there are some private schools that accommodate such students.
Tired of waiting outside a school in Jammu city, a parent requesting anonymity said, “Our child has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Schools can incorporate such students with the help of special educators. They can’t deny admission to special children ever since the court order, but most of the schools keep delaying the admission, in some cases even denying it.”
A court had directed the education department to verify facilities available at the city’s private schools for differently-abled children. A common admission form was made available for parents of children with special needs (CWSN) in order to simplify admission process for them. Court had directed the schools to take necessary steps to grant admission and convey the result of admissions in writing to both the parents and the department.
The order also obligated schools to state in writing the reasons for not granting admission to a child. An official who handles public complaints said, “We don’t receive many complaints, but in some cases, we have taken action. General complaints against the schools are that the teachers have not been sensitized towards children with special needs or infrastructure-related issues. After we intervened in one of the cases, school was directed to shift a specially-abled child’s class from third to first floor.”
Sumit Sharma, an education activist, said, “Majority of schools not only lack the infrastructure, but they also lack the volition to develop that infrastructure for special kids. The new schools that have opened in the past few years are particularly notorious for this. I have heard from parents about schools that are blunt about not admitting specially-abled kids.”
Repeated attempts were made to contact two prestigious schools in Jammu, namely G.D.Goenka and Jodhamal School but both emails and calls went unanswered. Naveen Shan said, “Court has made it mandatory for schools to reserve 3 percent seats for admission to specially-abled children. Schools cannot deny admission to children with special needs and if they do, parents can take action against them. This is about integration within private schools to make accommodations for children with special needs, not about developing a separate school for them within the category of private schools.”
The principal of an private school in Jammu, requesting anonymity, said, “Unless a court issues detailed directives to schools for infrastructure, special instructors etc. for children with special needs, all the private schools won’t be willing to take the initiative.”