Education is a fundamental human right as it promotes individual freedom and empowerment and yields important development benefits. It is a human right with immense power to enable a person to achieve a better job or means of self-employment, and get out of intergenerational poverty. It cultivates cultural values and beliefs in the child. Education is a right of every child whether she/he is disabled or non-disabled as education equips children to meet the challenges of the life. The development of an individual and the progress of a nation depend on education. It is also the principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values and thus is the strongest force in the development and growth of a child in preparing him/her to be a responsible, intelligent, and capable citizen. Education is also equally important to improve the women's status and autonomy. It contributes to an increase in confidence and decision-making power within the household. Education for Differently-abled children is a powerful tool by which we can prevent their marginalized adulthood and enables them to lift themselves out of depression due to any type of disability and participate fully as productive citizens.
Every year, a substantial number of kids in our country drop out of school. This has an adverse impact on country's economic and social well being, as well as lowering the country's literacy rate and creating a non-innovative environment. According to a poll done by the Indian government's National Statistical Office (NSO), one out of every eight students enrolled in a school or college drops out before completing their education, with school dropouts accounting for nearly 62 percent of all dropouts. The 2020-21 report by Unified District Information System for Education Plus (UDISE+) revealed that the annual dropout rate of secondary school students was 14.6%. Children with disabilities are 27 per cent more likely to drop out as compared to their peers who have no disabilities and the number of children with disabilities globally is estimated at almost 240 million (1 in 10 worldwide), according to the WHO’s Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH).
Dropping out of school is defined as leaving school without completion to a formal qualification awarded. The school dropout problem is a crisis because it impacts not only individuals but also their education. The existing Differently-abled children school dropout problem is of critical importance due to the economic and social consequences on communities and families. According to the National Sample Survey (NSS) 58th round (Jul.–Dec. 2002), 25 percent of the literate population of people with disabilities had received education up to the primary level and 11 percent up to the middle level. Many CWSNs students get only elementary education and after that number of students leaving the school are found to be increasing. The school dropout rate of CWSNs increases mostly in High schools. This ultimately results in getting poor and incomplete education by the student which further results in low pay scale job and poor lifestyle. The increase in number is due to various factors like poor family interest, financial factors, social hardships, inadequate facilities for CWSNs in educational institutions, poor transport and other support facility and various other similar causes.
For most children with learning disabilities, the question of what they wish to become once they grow up is often not asked. Some drift from special or mainstream schools into specialized courses or further education, where the only expectation from them is to complete the course. Differently-abled children dropouts need to opt for skill based courses that require more of skill rather than educational expertise. There are plenty of career options for Differently-abled children dropouts to select the job that suits the ability and interests of the child. Having some kind of disability does not limit yourself from starting your business and earning a good profit. There are plenty of appropriate carrier options for Differently-abled children dropouts.
Every differently-abled person has something special within, which lets them move ahead in life and become inspiring individuals that is why there are Specially-abled dropout youngsters who took an unconventional career approach, and despite all the flak they faced early in their academics, they made it big in their respective lives. Such dropouts not only encouraged the start-up culture in the country but also attempted to mould the notion that a student’s academic success has less to do with a successful career in the future. To start any of the business opportunities , Differently-abled children has to undergo a simple training period of 1-3 months to be an expert hand for the interested trade. Government of J&K is providing such training periods free of charges under "Himayat" and other such schemes through J&K Entrepreneurship Development Institute (JKEDI) and other private organizations also conduct such training programs.
For startup various financial Institutions like National Handicapped Finance Development Corporation (NHDFC) and MSME Ministry, provide loans for the business points as per their norms. Reserve Bank of India has also directed all Banks to provide finance to differently-abled youth on priority basis. When searching for a job, you want to target your job search based on your skills as well as your needs. For example, if mobility is an issue for you, a job that requires constant movement may not be ideal. So something like a desk job at home or in an easily accessible building might be what you aim for. Or, if you have Asperger’s or an autism-spectrum disorder, a field where social interaction is limited might be something that would suit you and really allow you to succeed.
To keep Differently-abled children from dropping out, a proactive method is needed to identify those students at risk. Warning signals of students like disengagement, failing grades, poor attendance, and other warning signs most closely linked with dropping out should be monitored. Early identification and systemically monitoring for those who are most likely to drop out is a key to the solution. Policy makers and education specialists should work together to implement a successful education system suitable for a new generation of students with special needs, in the competitive job market that meets the challenges for their proper career options. The education system should accept the challenges of the current job market through offering the necessary skills and tools to capture the interest of such Specially-abled children.
The Central and State governments in India have formulated programs and policies over the years for children with disabilities in order to help such dropout youth to enter mainstream society in terms of their employment and other issues. However, despite these policies, they are amongst the most disadvantaged in terms of access to employment opportunities, which needs to be looked in with serious interest.
(Writer is former Incharge Abhedananada Home-Higher Sec School Srinagar is a regular writer for this newspaper and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)