Legal and Policy Response to Right to Education for Children with Disabilities in India

Date01 August 2014
Publication Date01 August 2014
DOI10.1177/2277401720140105
AuthorRumi Ahmed
SubjectArticle
LEGAL AND POLICY RESPONSE TO RIGHT
TO EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN WITH
DISABILITIES IN INDIA
Rumi Ahmed*
Over the last few decades several legal and policy measures have
been initiated for education of children with disabilities. This
paper is a broad survey of various legislative and policy initiatives
taken towards fulfilling the right to education of disablAd persons.
It argues that the present framework is inadequate and that India
needs to enact the proposed Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill
2014 keeping in mind its obligations under the UN Convention on
Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) to which it is a
signatory.
I. INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................... 85
II. DEMOGRAPHIC AND EDUCATIONAL PROFILE OF THE
DISABLED IN INDIA .....................................................................................87
III. EVOLVING THE RIGHT TO EDUCATION OF DISABLED IN INDIA .............89
A. Legislative Framework ........................................................................90
B. Specific Policies and Schemes for Education of
Disabled in India ...................................................................................91
IV. RIGHT TO EDUCATION UNDER THE PWD ACT ........................................96
A. Amending the PWD Act ......................................................................98
V. RIGHT TO EDUCATION ACT (RTE ACT) ............................................... 100
VI. CONCLUSION .............................................................................................101
I. INTRODUCTION
Education is an important instrument for acquiring and transmitting
knowledge. It improves knowledge and skills for personal growth and
development, which in turn improves relationships among individuals,
groups and nations. One of the essential prerequisites for enabling an
* PhD, University of Gauhati. Former Assistant Project Coordinator (Disability Laws
Unit) at Shishu Sarothi, Guwahati, Assam.
individual to seek himself at his best is education. Education ensures the
integration of individuals into society. It enables people to develop a sense
of their own worth and respect for others. The Dakar Framework for Action
adopted at the 2000 World Education Forum, while re-affirming the vision
of the World Declaration on Education for All, stated, "all children, young
people and adults have the human right to benefit from an education that
will meet their basic learning needs in the best and fullest sense of the term,
an education that includes learning to know, to do, to live together and to
be." Education is an enabling force in generating income, employment and
self-respect for an individual.
As far as children with disabilities are concerned, education provides
autonomy to fully engage and actively participate in society. A democratic
society must create opportunities for education for all, including children
with disabilities. Equality of educational opportunity requires removing
physical barriers to access it. It requires additional resources for mitigating
all kinds of disabilities of an individual in order to equalize his/her
educational opportunities. It also requires us to think in terms of each
individual's learning styles and requirements.
While recognizing the importance of right and access to education for
children with disability, it is important to highlight that historically, such
children have long been excluded from the right to participate in normal
educational processes open to all other children; they were marginalized
and excluded in ways that would not have been tolerated by any other social
1
group. Despite various efforts, education for children with disabilities
remained marginalized and the exclusion of people with disabilities from
2
and within the education system continues to be a cause of concern.
Negative attitudes to disability are still the major stumbling blocks for
1 Fazal Rizvi & Carol Christensen, Introduction, in
2
Global estimates for the number of children (0–14 years) with disabilities range between 93
million and 150 million. See WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION, WORLD REPORT ON
DISABILITY 2011, available at h ttp://www.who.int/d isabilities/wor ld_report/2011/
report.pdf [hereafter WRD]. As per the 2006 report of the UNESCO, of the 77 million
children who are not in school, at least 25 million of them have a disability. See UNESCO,
The Implications of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) for
Education for All, INCLUSI ON INTERNATIONAL, (March 21, 2013), available at
http://ii.gmalik.com/pdfs/Implications CRPD_dr2_X.pdf. Less than 10 percent of disabled
children in Africa attend primary school. See UNESCO, EFA GLOBAL MONITORING
REPORT-2007 74, available at www.unesco.org/education/GMR/2007/Full_report.pdf. The
Disability and the Dilemma of Education
and Justice 1-2 (Carol Christensen & Fazal Rizvi ed., 1996).
86 Journal of National Law University, Delhi [Vol. 2

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