It is necessary for their education to divide them first into different categories because an uniform pattern of education cannot serve the purpose of different categories of disabled, handicapped and mentally retarded children.
There are certain types of disabilities that are caused by personal shortcomings. We can call these casual disabilities. Besides, if due to some internal or mental disorder changes occur in the thinking and attitudes and these are reflected in individual’s behaviour, we call it symptomatic disabilities.
This is due to either physical or mental or social factors. Physically disabled persons are those who are either dumb or deaf or blind or lame.
Mentally handicapped are those who lack average intelligence. They may be divided into two categories on the basis of intelligence test. In the first category come those who are a little below average, as far as intelligence quotient is concerned. In the second category come those persons who are known as moron, imbecile and idiot and ‘whose intelligence quotient is less than 70, 50 and 25 respectively.
The socially handicapped are those who are orphans without home or property, have no guardians and belong to the lowest order in the society.
Man is a social being. All his needs are met by the society. His way of living is conditioned by the society he lives in. When such conditions appear that he fails to establish the necessary co ordination between his own nature and his social environment, some changes occur in his normal behaviour.
Then dissatisfaction takes root in him and he is overcome by criminal tendencies. This generally happens due to poverty, illiteracy and ignorance, lack of peace in married life and cruel treatment by family members. In these conditions children often fall prey to mental diseases. They do not take interest in their studies and they develop criminal tendencies.
Education for the Handicapped:
India has made very little progress in this sphere. Even after independence disabled and handicapped persons have to take to begging in the absence of proper care and treatment. Some Christian missionaries gave attention to this problem prior to independence.
For the first time, in 1883 a Protestant lady, Miss Annie Sharp opened a school for blind girls at Amritsar. Later in the year 1887 an Indian Christian, Sri Lai Bihari Shah, laid the foundation of a school for the blind persons in Calcutta.
Similarly in 1890 and 1900 Miss Asquith and Anne Millard established schools for the blind at Palyam and Kottaya and Bombay respectively. Till 1955-56 no special progress could be made in this field. Grants were given by the various State Governments to the schools of physically handicapped persons.
In the year 1952 the National Child Welfare Council was set-up and a council for providing training to physically handicapped and disabled persons was established in 1955-56. In the year 1955-56 the number of institutions for mentally handicapped, physically disabled, deaf and dumb and blind persons was 3, 8, 34 and 49 and the number of students receiving training in these schools was 227, 552, 2,290 and 2,245 respectively.
By 1992, the corresponding figures for such institution have swelled upto 27, 67, 103 and 337 and for students the raised figures have been 1119, 4015, 7839 and 8975 respectively.
Education for the Disabled:
It is a matter of regret that so far we have not taken a census of disabled and handicapped persons in our country. Their estimated number has been based on the proportion that exists between the physically and mentally sound persons and physically and mentally handicapped persons in U.S.A. In U.S.A., their percentage is two.
It is, therefore, necessary in India at first to undertake a census of such persons. Later on they could be classified in the two categories known as casual and symptomatic and arrangements for their proper treatment be provided.
In this way it will be easily discovered as to what type of treatment is needed for particular handicapped individual. Mentally handicapped persons may then be sent to mental hospitals. Some children may be sent to common schools after a short period of treatment.
Some will need a little change in their course of studies. Thus, there are only a smaller number of handicapped persons will be found for whom special arrangements will have to be made. The following kinds of institutions will be needed for them:
(1) Institutions for Juvenile delinquents, (2) Orphanages, (3) Schools for the physically handicapped, (4) Schools for the blind, (5) Schools for the deaf and dumb, (6) Institutions for the mentally handicapped, and (7) Guidance and treatment centres.
Problems of Arrangements:
Proper arrangements do not exist in India for the education of disabled and handicapped persons. The following are the factors responsible for this shortcoming:—
(1) Lack of Finances:
No scheme on a large scale has so far been chalked out by the Government to solve this problem because of the shortage of funds. It is true that institutions connected with this work get grants from the Government, but this is not enough.
(2) Shortage of Good Institutions:
Although children’s centres, welfare centres and orphanages are being set up by the Government and individuals, but so far neither their number is enough nor are there proper arrangements in these institutions for educating handicapped persons.
(3) Shortage of Teachers:
Due to lack of training facilities enough teachers are not available for the institutions of handicapped persons. Consequently, the teaching work is not proceeding satisfactorily.
(4) More Handicapped Persons in Rural Areas:
An overwhelming majority of Indian population is rural. As such, comparatively more handicapped persons live in villages than in cities. But there are practically no institutions for their care in rural areas. The need, therefore, is to open special schools in rural areas and give the curriculum a rural bias.
(5) Lack of Administration:
In order to make the Government efforts more useful it is necessary to have efficient administrators. Unfortunately there is a dearth of such good administrators. The success of this scheme depends on the efforts of efficient administrators.
Despite the above mentioned difficulties, whatever efforts have been made in the country, although not quite adequate, may however be regarded as somewhat satisfactory upto some extent in view of the difficult conditions. Different types of institutions have been opened in the country for different kinds of handicapped persons.
Education for the Blind:
There are nearly four million blind persons in India according to a recent report of the Planning Commission in 1992, but it is a matter of pity that only a small percentage out of them are receiving some education.
The Ministry of Education, Government of India, set up a unit for rehabilitation and education of blind persons under the control of Deputy Education Adviser. A blind adult training centre was opened at Deputy Education Adviser.
A blind adult training centre was opened at Dehradun in 1950. In 1951 schools for the blind were opened at Ajmer and Batain (Kutch). Two years’ course has been instituted in the Dehradun School. In this school blind children are taught to prepare baskets, weaving and spinning and typing besides stenography.
After their training arose the problem of finding jobs for them and rehabilitation. So a department was opened for this purpose in 1955 at Madras. In 1950 a central Braille printing press was established at Dehradun to produce literature for blind persons.
Educational Arrangements of the Deaf, Dumb and Disabled:
The deaf and dumb and other handicapped persons are usually educated along with blind persons. The blind persons are mostly taught music, but deaf and dumb are taught painting. They are also trained in some vocation like the blind.
Reform of Juvenile Delinquents:
The problem of juvenile delinquents at present is more complicated and is proving very harmful to the society. Acts like ‘Children’s Acts’, ‘Juvenile Delinquent Acts’ and ‘Reformatory Act’ have been promulgated at different stages.
The Central Government is giving grants to reformatory schools and such other institutions. ‘Rain Baseras’ Wight Shelter) are being constructed in bigger towns to provide sleeping accommodation to homeless persons. They are also being provided with vocational training to improve their lot, besides education.
Education of the Physically Handicapped:
The physically handicapped persons do not need special type of alphabets as the blind require. So they are admitted to ordinary schools after necessary treatment. During their education, particular attention is paid in order to enable them to learn to make proper use of the aid-implements.
Education of the Mentally Handicapped:
Mental hospitals are needed for treating the mentally handicapped. Unfortunately there is an acute shortage of mental hospitals in our country. In mental hospitals a psychological study of the nature of ailments of the patient is made and he is provided work according to his nature and liking.
Treatment clinics and guidance centres are needed in these mental hospitals. Although some mental hospitals have been established in India, yet in the absence of proper arrangements full advantage is not being derived from them.
There are thousands of orphanages in India run by different religious institutions for the maintenance and upbringing of orphans. These institutions receive grants from the Government. Unfortunately among these institutions there are some which do not hesitate in misusing the Government grants.
They also do not hesitate in exploiting the boys and girls under their charge. However institutions like the Ram Krishna Mission, Kasturba Trust, Salvation Army, etc., are some of the institutions that have rendered valuable service to the country.
Their source of income is government grants, donations, subscriptions and help from local bodies. It is heartening to note that the Government is taking some interest in these institutions and it is hoped that by end of the 8th Five Year Plan this problem will be attended to upto an appreciable extent.