Several years ago, I had come across with somebody’s beautiful quote that “Great things happen to those who don’t stop believing, trying, learning and being grateful”. While experiencing the enormous challenges for Children with Special Needs (CWSN) so far as their well-being and education in Jammu & Kashmir is concerned, a premier government stake holder in school education called Jammu and Kashmir Board of School Education (JKBOSE) has lastly felt the emerging heat to call for a three-day workshop from 21-23 June 2022 with two meaningful objectives. One to produce a handbook of disability on CWSN for understanding, sensitization and information of the stake holders and secondly to review and revise the syllabi and scheme for assessment of alternative subjects in vogue for 10th class students with special needs. The workshop was organised by Academic Division of JKBOSE in supervision of Prof. Abdul Wahid Makhdoomi, Director Academics and Ms Naila Neelofar, Assistant Director Academics in the auditorium of the Board.
In fact, it was my dream getting fulfilled before dreaming it for my personal project on NCPEDP-Javed Abidi Fellowship on Disability supported by Azim Premji Foundation, where this initiative of JKBOSE resembles my theme i.e., Inclusive education for the disabled students in Srinagar Kashmir. Taking this as an opportunity, I found the audience less in quantity but good in quality to deliberate on various aspects of disability and education throughout the workshop. Listening keenly to the speakers like Director academics Prof Abdul Wahid, Dr Mir Zafar Iqbal, Director CRC, Dr Abdul Rashid, Prof & Head, Paediatric Surgery, GMC Srinagar, Dr Abrar Consultant Dept of Child Psychiatry, Dr Syed Karaar Hussain, Child Psychiatrist, Dr. Zaid Ahmed Wani, Prof & Head, Dept of ChildPsychiatry and G. N Var, President Private Schools Association, I came to know about various type of disabilities which are being ignored by both parents and teachers other than commonly known physical disabilities like visual impairment, locomotive, hearing impairment etc.
The workshop was very close and progressive to the ultimate and dire needs for the students with disabilities who are studying in various schools in alarming numbers and are facing inexpressive difficulties in normal schooling. My personal research and collection of primary data of such students from the directorate of school education is witness to the status quo and the undemonstrative policies of J&K government and in execution of central government Acts and policies.
While the Board authorities reveal that disable students need not to come to Board office for permission for scribe in 10th and 12th classes but have to submit their relevant documents well before in class 9th , it is a good breather to get seriously noted by the school authorities.
The revision in the syllabus for disabled students also is an interesting move when JKBOSE is planning for alternative subjects for 9th and 10th classes such as computer painting EVS, Music, film creativity, home science, physical and health education etc. After debating on the syllabus, it is imperative to sensitize normal students as well as teachers about the changes and to get understand and accept the disability without shadowing it under the social stigma. To produce a handbook of disability on CWSN for understanding, sensitisation and information of the stakeholders, will definitely help the teachers and the authorities to get themselves involved for the betterment of the disabled students. The idea of Ms Hina Khan to explore Academic Alternative Spaces for CWSN to create genres relevant films like Taare Zameen Par can be used to impart LSRW skills. The whole society needs to be sensitized and parental acceptance is a prior need to empower the disable students with courage and to give them a broader vision for the better roads ahead.
(Sanya Zehra is visually impaired LLM pass out from Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law (RGNUL)/ licensed Advocate from J&K High Court and pursuing NCPEDP-Javed Abidi fellowship on disability). Sanya Zehra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)