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Indian Express
13 April 2010
By Inal Shah

Though there is an increasing awareness about learning disability in private schools, many civic schools teachers are unable to identify such students. We are trying to screen class X students at the beginning of the year
IN A first–of–its–kind, doctors from the B Y L Nair Hospital are surveying 10 civic schools to identify class 10 students with learning disability. The idea is to screen students ahead of their board exams. So far, the doctors from the Life Centre for Learning Disability have identified 190 students with learning problems.
The project includes BMC schools in Matunga, Dadar, Parabhadevi, Worli and Parel.

“Though there is an increasing awareness about learning disability (LD) in private schools, many civic schools teachers are unable to identify such students. Under this project, we are trying to screen class 10 students at the beginning of the year. The schools have provided lists of academically weaker students to the doctors for screening. Doctors conduct certain tests on the students to identify the ones with the learning disabilities,” said Poonam Lalwani, managing trustee of Life Trust, NGO working with BMC schools.

“Psychologists and social workers made teachers aware of the symptoms of learning disability and other related problems. Students once identified will be referred to Nair Hospital LD centre for further assessment,” said Dr Henal Shah, associate professor, department of psychiatry at Nair Hospital.

According to Dr Shah, poor awareness among teachers and parents pose a major problem in identifying children with learning disability.

“Under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, doctors at LD centre have trained over 1,500 teachers in the last two years to identify such students. However, this has not helped much. Among the BMC schools, government–aided schools and private run, civic schools are least participating,” said Dr Shah.

Since 2007, the Life Centre for Learning Disability at Nair Hospital has issued certificates to 950 children in city schools, both public and private. With only two LD centers in the city – at Sion Hospital and Nair Hospita   to certify students, educationalists say there is a need for more centers to reduce the waiting period.

Learning disability (LD) is a lifelong disorder which affects the manner in which individuals with normal or above average intelligence select, retain and express information.

Some of the prominent forms of LD include dyslexia (difficulty in reading and comprehension), dysgraphia (Difficulty in writing) and dyscalculia (difficulty in arithmetic). According to the data, there are over 6,00,000 students appearing for SSC exams every year in India, out of which 5 to 15 percent are dyslexics.

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