21 November 2011
Manash Pratim Gohain
New Delhi India
Wants Teachers, Paediatricians To Be Trained
Caught between parental pressure and the teachers’ inability to identify learning disabilities (LD), more than three crore such children are not only becoming academically poor but also show behavioural abnormalities later in life. Action Plan 2011 launched by the Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) on Sunday demands that teachers be equipped with identification tools, parents informed about LD, and most importantly, 19,000 paediatricians be trained to deal with the disability. Launching this national plan in north India, IAP’s northern unit brought together paediatricians, teachers and policy makers from seven states for a daylong programme at Maulana Azad Medical College to deliberate on learning disabilities, causes and concerns, and also the road ahead.
With increased awareness on these disabilities, a growing need to train paediatricians on LD, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (AHDH) is being felt. “The cases are definitely on the rise due to various factors. But what is more important is that we now know of these disabilities. So it has become all the more important to get trained as half of the paediatricians don’t know what is autism,” said Dr Ashish Gupta, a consultant paediatrician.
Nearly 20% of schoolchildren suffer from some kind of learning disability. Experts warn that without intervention at an early age, they will become a liability on society.
Calling for larger commitment from all sections, the director general of health services, Dr R K Srivastava, said, “Under the United Nations Convention of Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2007, there is a global commitment to such children. But our own Persons with Disabilities Act 1995 doesn’t take into account LD as a disability. Though I don’t know the number in absolute terms, there is a general understanding that learning disabilities are increasing. The indicators are more dropouts and underachievers, and an increasing number of children not behaving normally when put in school.”MAKING ENABLED
Action Plan 2011 of Indian Academy of Pediatrics seeks following amendments in Persons with Disabilities (PWD) Act, 1995
- Specific learning disability (SLD) be recognized as disability with all benefits given to children with other disabilities being provided to SLD kids
- Special Provisions for children with learning disability under Disabilities Act
- Provisions for SLD in National Policy of Education and State Education Acts
- Compulsory seat reservation for students with disabilities in all regular schools
- Quota for children with SLD in colleges, especially in professions where they could excel
- Compulsory addition of learning resource centres in every school
- Disability board in every district include a pediatrician, psychiatrist, special educator or educational psychologist well versed in assessment of children with SLD & aware of benefits available to these kids
- Criteria for diagnosis of SLD be formulated and guidelines be made available
- Compulsory integration of SLD component in BEd programme at national and state levels
- Regular teachers be required to do six-month foundation course in education of children with disabilities offered by Rehabilitation Council of India in distance mode