Right to Education for children with disabilities: HC Seeks Updates

In a latest development to the issue of ensuring education to children with disabilities, the Delhi High Court on December 6, 2017 asked the Centre to file a reply to a plea seeking to ensure the Right to Education for children with disabilities.

The Delhi High Court bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar issued a notice to the Centre and the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and asked them to reply to the plea within four weeks.

Filed by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, the plea alleged that India, having ratified the United Nation Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, was under an obligation to make ‘inclusive education‘ effective in all schools in the country.

“The right to education of children with disabilities makes it the government’s obligation to ensure that schools provide the requisite facilities to meet the learning needs of different types of students with disabilities,” the plea said.

“In order to satisfy the commitment made under the UN Convention, provisions related to ‘inclusive education’ ought to have been included under the RTE Act, the plea added.

“However, by only ensuring access to mainstream schools without clearly specifying norms and standards for inclusion, individualised support and reasonable accommodation, the RTE Act is merely paying lip service to the concept of inclusive education,” it said.

The plea, while urging the Centre to issue directions introduce norms and standards of inclusive education within the ambit of the RTE Act, also sought to ensure that the requirements of inclusive education are met by all schools and enforced in case of non-compliance.

According to reports, the principle of inclusive education was adopted by the United Nations in 2006 under the United Nation Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities. India became a signatory to the United Nations Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2007.

According to Article 24 of the UN Convention, the state parties will ensure the provision of an inclusive education system at all levels for realising the right to education and on the basis of equal opportunity.

Besides this, India’s Right to Education Act states that 25% of seats in private schools should be reserved for poor and disadvantaged groups. Persons with disabilities are among the disadvantageous groups.

According to media reports, the Supreme Court had on October 30 this year observed that separate schools and distinctly trained teachers should be there for specials kids who suffer from autism, blindness and deafness.

“We are of the prima facie view that the children with special needs have to be imparted education not only by special teachers but there have to be special schools for them,” the top court bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud said.

“When we say ‘disability’, we do not mean ‘disability’ as has been defined in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 includes certain physical disabilities which may not be a warrant for getting admission in special schools,” the bench said.

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