Private unaided schools here have sought government aid and two years for putting in place infrastructure for teaching disabled children — as desired by the Delhi High Court.
The schools told the court that the responsibility of educating the disabled students was on the government and the burden could not be shifted to private unaided schools.
In an affidavit filed in the court, the Action Committee of Unaided Private Schools cited financial constraints and sought financial support and aid from the government, besides seeking time to set up the facilities for the disabled students.
“The government must help private schools both financially and in kind, so that they can implement the policy for providing education to the children with various kinds of disabilities with proper equipment, adequate infrastructure and the government must decide to reimburse expenses on this account,” said the committee.
The court Aug 6, 2010 told schools to remove architectural barriers from schools’ premises for the movement of disabled students.
The affidavit was filed in response to a public interest litigation filed by NGO Social Jurist. The NGO raised the issue of 2,039 unaided private schools and 258 government schools in the city lacking basic facilities for the disabled students.
Most schools in the country were not disabled-friendly but the concern of the petitioner was genuine and needed not just empathy but a sustained effort from all, including the government, schools, the civil society and people, the schools said.
Basic physical as well as academic infrastructure, such as special teachers, were required for the education of the disabled children and particularly those suffering from blindness, hearing impairment and mental retardation, the petition said.
The failure to have these facilities in schools violated the fundamental and human right to education of the children with disabilities as guaranteed in the constitution, the NGO said.
The lack of facilities for the disabled in schools also violated the right to education and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities.
The schools said many of them had created ramps for disabled children and also modified the toilets.
Besides the changes in the infrastructure, providing buildings with ramps and lifts, classrooms with various educational aids, equipment, apparatus and other material for a disabled-friendly environment would require substantive investment something which can only be done in phases, the committee said.
The committee informed the court about a scarcity of qualified special teachers for the disabled and the high cost of hiring such professionals.
The schools said the sorry state of affairs could be explained in terms of the failure of the government to address its responsibility of educating the disabled students.
With the efficacy of the government authorities to perform their statutory duties in the matter coming under challenge through a petition, the Aug 6, 2010 order of the court to remove all architectural barriers from school premises could only be considered as a precedent to all the much-needed reforms.