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Times of India
14 September 2010
By Karthika Gopalakrishnan
Chennai, India

Physically challenged government school students of classes IX and XII are set to gain greater focus in special ‘resource centres’ to be established by the department of school education.

To be built under the Integration Education for the Disabled at Secondary Stage (IEDSS) scheme, one Centre will come up in each of the 64 educational districts in the state, officials said. The state is also set to provide 50 ramps for school buildings at Rs 30,000 each and 100 modified toilets for the physically challenged at Rs 10,000 each.

"These Centres will function from select government schools and contain all the materials that visual and hearing impaired students need. For instance, they will have Braille books, abacuses, collections of tactile diagrams and picture books. The special educator in–charge of the Centre will be trained in total communication, that is, oral and sign language. These teachers will work with students based on their needs," a senior official said.

As many as 18 NGOs, to be involved in implementing the scheme, will appoint teachers at the Centres in the teacher–pupil ratio of 1:5. These organisations include the National Association for the Blind, Integrated Education Implementation Committee (IEIC) and Keel Ottivakkam Grama Sangam. With each Centre being established at a cost of Rs 2.7 lakh, the entire initiative will account for Rs 1.72 crore.

According to M Ezhil, honorary general secretary, Tamil Nadu branch – NAB, the scheme will strengthen inclusive education as physically challenged students could gain mainstream experience during school hours and get personalised attention from special teachers in their free time.

"Special educators act as an additional support for the class teacher and work with students either during their play hours or classes that they find too difficult to attend with their classmates. A full–fledged Resource Centre should provide mobility and orientation training to help students move around on their own, teach them Braille, assist students with tough subjects and impart computer education," he said.

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