A ‘Special educator’ refers to a teacher or trainer for students belonging to specific categories of exclusion. It is time we rethink if it is necessary to call the education we intend to impart to the special children as special education in the first place as they are nothing but part of the human diversity and humanity.
However, Different people need different methodologies to be taught. For example, skills necessary to teach and train a person with blindness may differ from those that are needed to teach others. A student with deafness or hearing troubles needs to learn sign language unlike a student with blindness that needs to learn braille and the use of screen reading software. Keeping in mind the special skills required for a teacher, there is a need for a special educator.
Special educators are required as much in the general and mainstream schools as they are in schools for particular groups of people. Quoting the study by the Rehabilitation Council, the ratio of special educators vis-à-vis persons with disabilities is alarming. Also, more than one hundred schools are assigned to one special educator trained in one stream of disability under the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, as quoted by a Rapporteur, Disabilities, NHRC, is disturbing.
In conclusion, besides recognizing the principle of freedom to make one’s own choice, The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 leaves it to the students with disabilities to choose whether he/she wants to study in a general school or in a special school.
“To my mind, our emphasis should be on quality education regardless of whether it comes from the general school or so called special school.”
The article is written by Poonam Pardesi, a Programme officer in the Programme Development and Support Unit at Aide et Action International South Asia.