Dedicated component for education of child with special needs part of Samagra Shiksha scheme: Govt to SC

The support has been enhanced from Rs 3,000 per child per annum to Rs 3,500
Supreme Court | (Pic: Wikimedia Commons)
Supreme Court | (Pic: Wikimedia Commons)

The Centre has told the Supreme Court that there is a dedicated component for education of children with special needs as part of the ‘Samagra Shiksha scheme and support is provided to address their requirements in general schools.

In an additional affidavit filed in the apex court, the Centre has said that several provisions for children with special needs have been included under the ‘Samagra Shiksha scheme and the support has been enhanced from Rs 3,000 per child per annum to Rs 3,500.

It said as per the data available with unified district information system for education, there are 22.5 lakh children with special needs in the country. “In terms of teachers, as per data available, 4.33 lakh general teachers have been trained to teach children with special needs in addition to teaching general children. There are also 28,535 special teachers for children with special needs,” said the affidavit, filed by an under-secretary in the Ministry of Education.

The matter came up for hearing on Wednesday before a bench of justices A M Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna which observed that it would examine the scheme and the same be placed before it. It asked the counsel appearing for the Centre to place the scheme on record before next date of hearing on August 11. The bench said advocate Shoeb Alam, who is appearing for the petitioner in the matter, can also place the copy of the scheme if the same is available in public domain.

The affidavit was filed in the court which is hearing a matter raising the issue about obligation of schools, including of the concerned state government to ensure appointment of duly qualified special teachers to impart quality training to children with disability in the ratio enunciated in central enactments as also the schemes propounded by the Central government from time to time and their service conditions.

While referring to the ‘Samagra Shiksha' framework, it said recruitment, service condition and deployment of teachers are primarily in the domain of respective state governments and Union Territory (UT) administration.

“Therefore, the States and UTs have been filing up vacant teacher positions from time to time and the Central government has no role in it,” the affidavit said.

It said in the year 2018-19, the department of school education and literacy launched ‘Samagra Shiksha', an integrated scheme for school education covering children from classes I to XII, which subsumed the erstwhile centrally sponsored schemes of ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan', ‘Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan' and teacher education.

“Similar to the erstwhile centrally sponsored schemes of 'Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan' and ‘Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan', there is a dedicated inclusive education component for the education of children with special needs as part of the ‘Samagra Shiksha' scheme,” it said.

It said through the component, children with special needs are provided support via specific student-oriented interventions like appliances and assistive devices, transport and escort support, Braille books and large print books, stipend for girls with special needs, corrective surgeries etc in order to appropriately address their educational requirements in general schools.

It said under the scheme, special educators may be posted at the block or cluster level or as per the requirement.

It said the draft framework for implementation of the scheme includes guidelines for the appointment of special educators from primary to senior secondary level.

“It is pertinent to mention here that the salary of special educators has been delinked from the number of CWSN (child with special need) students so that the special educators get the same salary and more funds are available for their interventions related to CWSN students,” it said. It also said ‘Samagra Shiksha' scheme does not specifically provide for a pupil teacher ratio for children with special needs.

The affidavit said the absence of pupil teacher ratio is to ensure flexibility in the scheme so that special educators under ‘Samagra Shiksha' can be posted at the block or cluster level on need basis. It said the ‘Samagra Shiksha' scheme is in consonance with the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.

It said the fund sharing pattern for the scheme between the Centre and states is at present in ratio of 90:10 for the eight north-eastern states – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura – and three Himalayan states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand and 60:40 for all other states and UTs with legislatures. It is 100 per cent centrally sponsored for UTs without legislature, it said.

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