Published: 10th October 2017
Unaided and underfunded, Kerala's Special Needs Schools to go on strike for a month demanding equal rights
The government, along with a majority of the country, sees handling a special child as the responsibility of only the parent or school. The schools are going to protest this very notion
Tired of being ignored and sidelined from the mainstream, schools for specially challenged children in Kerala will demand to get aided status for their school and will launch a month-long protest that will include employees, students and parents. Members of the Special Schools employees' Union said that the lack of governmental support was taking a toll on the quality of education and skills imparted to children with special needs (CWSN).
There is only one government-run school for students with intellectual disabilities in Kerala, while thousands of children with special needs are denied support for education and skill development, said Sister Sherin, principal of St Joseph Special School at Chullikara in Rajapuram.
The government should provide skill-based education to intellectually disabled persons above 18 years and gainfully employ them, said Beena Suku, principal of Rotary Special School at Mavungal near Kanhangad. "When the government can provide free of cost education to 43 lakh school students, why are children with intellectual disabilities left out," she asked. The government sees running the special schools as the responsibility of the parents and private management, said K A M Muhammed Mubarak Haji, manager of Karuna Special School. "This attitude should change," he added.
The government should also ensure pay parity for teachers of special schools with government teachers so that special children get the best care, said Muhammed Mubarak Haji. Employees will stage a sit-in raising their demands in front of the collectorate on Wednesday, said a union leader. MP P Karunakaran, MLAs K Kunhiraman and N A Nellikkunnu, and district panchayat president A G C Basheer will participate in the protest meet, he said.
A protest will be held in Kannur on Thursday. "Protest meetings will be held across the state till October 30 to protect our rights," said Sr Sherin. On October 31, the union will hold a day and night protest in Thiruvananthapuram, she said.
(This was first published in The New Indian Express)