Amritsar, May 25
Not letting their disabilities define their abilities to excel, students from the government special schools shone in the PSEB Class 12 Board results declared on Wednesday. Despite odds, including physical and intellectual disabilities, accessibility challenges and social stigma, some of these students scored above 60 per cent in science and humanities streams.
Three students from Pehal Resource Centre, Karampura, a government-run special school —- Lovepreet Singh, Priya and Amritpal Singh — were among those to secure first division, all scoring above 60 per cent in PSEB Class 12 exams in the Humanities stream. Another student Rahil Sharma, from Government Senior Secondary School, Nag Kalan, from the non-medical stream, scored 445/500 with 99 in computer science and 92 in Maths. Rahil has autism spectrum disorder and had earlier been pursuing studies at the mainstream school in Nag Kalan, with the help of Block Special Educators. While Rahil’s parents are both educators in government-run colleges, he is soon leaving for Canada to pursue higher education in the field of computer science and technology.
Lovepreet, who is visually impaired is also a national level sportsperson and comes from a low-income family. Priya and Amritpal also suffer from autism and have been part of Pehal Resource Centre’s flagship inclusive education programme as the centre is now promoting them to train at the ITI under National Skill Development Scheme. The fact that these students come from families of daily wagers, farmers in border belt proves that achieving inclusive public education system is not a far-fetched dream.
Rahil is not the only CWSN (Children With Special Needs) student, who has been inducted in mainstream government schools in the district. “We have set up 96 cluster-level resources centres for the purpose of making education accessible to children with special needs, including children who suffer from locomotor disabilities. We have engaged special educators, with two educators in each block and one volunteer teacher at each resource centre to help identify, assess and then assign a specially curated learning schedule as per the needs of these children. This is the first time that we have had CWSN students from government schools clearing PSEB Class 12 exams with such good marks,” shared Dharminder Gill, co-ordinator, Pehal Resource Centre and SSA, Amritsar.
The cluster-level resource centres are the first learning platform for CWSN from rural and border areas. They run classes from elementary till Class 10 and later children with locomotor disabilities are sent to local mainstream government schools for inclusive education.
Social stigma, accessibility & geographical challenges
The district education department under DEO (Secondary) Sushil Kumar Tuli and DEO (Elementary) Rajesh Sharma has expanded its inclusive education initiative to border belts including Attari, Ajnala, Baba Bakala etc. Santosh, a special educator posted in the district since 2011 is currently serving as Block Educator (rural) in Attari. Santosh says that over the years, the inclusive education initiative by government schools have managed to reach CSWN children from the lowest social strata. “I have 18 students, all with different disabilities, hailing from the border belt of Attari. These children come from families of drug addicts, daily wagers, with zero awareness and education. Most of the time, we have to first educate the parents, even go to their homes and convince them to let their child out of hiding and go to school. The biggest challenge is to get the child to school, rest is something we know how to navigate. Then there are issues of accessibility, lack of resources in the border belt,” she says. Santosh says that apart from social stigma, they have to ensure that these children do not fall prey to drug abuse which is rampant in border villages.
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