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States urged to make education more inclusive to help the disabled
When Manoj Kumar, the Centre’s Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, asked a group of cerebral palsy-affected students at the Spastics Society of Tamil Nadu (SPASTN) what their career ambitions were, they replied in unison, “We want to be software engineers.”
If the aspirations of thousands of children with disabilities across the country are to be fulfilled, State Governments need to make education more inclusive, Mr. Kumar told The Hindu during his brief visit to the Society on Monday.
The Society works with children affected by cerebral palsy and its associated conditions, providing them with education and vocational training, besides helping to place them in mainstream schools.
“Education is the biggest concern,” Mr. Kumar said. “States need to give inclusive education more thrust, and all higher education institutions must fulfil the 3 per cent reservation.”
According to a recently released report of the World Bank, a large number of children with disabilities remain out of school.
A 2005 survey of 1,400 households revealed that in Tamil Nadu, 45 per cent of the disabled children were out of school. Only Assam and Madhya Pradesh had higher rates.
Mr. Kumar said State Governments needed to identify jobs suited to the needs of disabled candidates in a better manner if vacancies in the reserved posts were to be filled. “State Governments simply have to comply with the 3 per cent reservation, which is a statutory provision.”
While State Governments argue that vacancies remain as there are not enough applicants, Mr. Kumar said the larger problem lay in States not identifying jobs to suit the needs of a particular candidate. “State Governments need to improve the identification process.
The Union Government has notified around 2,000 jobs, but many States have not followed this identification process. If they do, the appointments they make will be more. You have to find a job to fit the needs of a particular person.”
During his visit to Tamil Nadu, Mr. Kumar will interact with several departments to assess whether mandated reservations have been fulfilled. “Things are better in Tamil Nadu than in other States, but there are still several lapses, especially with regard to jobs,” he said.
Annie Shyam, director of the Society, said if employment rates for people with disabilities were to be improved, access to schools and workplaces had to be increased. “We hear people say that reservations are not taken up,” she said.
“But for that to happen, we need to improve access. This is not just the responsibility of the State Government, but of every individual. We have to make our workplaces more disabled friendly.”
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