Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Education Options for Deaf in Delhi dwindle with Social Welfare Deptt encroaching on their only secondary school

Dear Colleagues,

Please refer to my earlier post titled "Present education system is inaccessible to deaf". The Government has been tom-toming itself on the RTE (The right to compulsory and free education), however, the deaf and the speech impaired have continued to be the most marginalised in the community. The statement from Mr. Narayanan, the Secretary of NAD says it all, "Ninety per cent of the deaf are either illiterate or have very low level of literacy as almost all the tching is oral. There are 18 million deaf in India and only 250 professional interpreters."

Admittedly, there are only three primary schools for the deaf and only one secondary school run by the Delhi Government. This indicates how many deaf children graduate to colleges from the schooling system in Delhi- given the fact that The Govt. Lady Noyce Senior Secondary School is a school that attracts deaf students from entire north India. The students have also been complaining that despite being in fairly senior classes, they can barely read and write.

I have met several students of this school personally and can bet for the poor quality of education being imparted in this institution. The teachers mostly use oral methods rather than sign language. The children rely more on sight words rather than being taught the formation of sentences. The question papers are given in advance with answers to the students to mug up the subject. On the day of the exam, the mugged up answers are vomitted on the sheets with no effective learning.

Tthe fact that Social Welfare department is housed in the School building with the common entrance /compound of the school and entry of general public is allowed, this is a serious threat to the security of the school where deaf young girls and boys and studying. They are vulnerable and their voices may go unheard complicated by their typical disability. There are a large number of visitors on a daily basis right from the senior citizen and the disabled to the RTI applicants, vendors and maintenance engineers of the outsourced firms... the list would be long.

It is the high time, the government moved out its office from the School campus and created more options for ensuring quality education of the deaf in Delhi. In the name of Inclusive education, the blind and the deaf have been among the most hit. They are neither included truly in the mainstream schools nor are able to find sufficient options due to scarcity of special schools. Given such a large number of hearing and speech impaired children wanting special education inputs, can three primary school and one senior secondary school suffice for the state? This is the question that the Social Welfare Minister is to answer.

Here is the coverage from TOI that spills the beans for the Welfare Deptt!

Shreya Roy Chowdhury, TNN | Apr 16, 2013, 

NEW DELHI: Lady Noyce Senior Secondary School for the Deaf has more offices than classrooms today. Delhi government's department of social welfare, which runs the school, occupies large sections of the only secondary school for the deaf in the city, located behind the Ferozeshah Kotla cricket stadium. The primary section has counters for public dealing, the playground has porta cabin offices, the spaces in between buildings serve as parking areas and there are offices in both the girls' and boys' hostels.

A disability rights NGO claims applicants are now being refused admission because of lack of space. The Delhi-based National Association of the Deaf (NAD) says they came to know of what they describe as "encroachment" by the department on the school when some children turned away by the school came to them.

The department has operated from the school premises since 2005. "We don't want to be here," says Achla Singh, director in the department. She says they haven't taken over the entire ground but only a small part of it and that there are still large spaces on the premises for the children to play in. "We will vacate the top floor for the children," she says, "but we have functioned from here for so many years and have had a very peaceful coexistence with the school".

But for A S Narayanan, secretary, NAD, peace has prevailed because the affected group is hearing-impaired. "They couldn't have done this with a school for children with any other form of disability," he says. "Everyone can advocate for themselves except the deaf." According to the NGO's report of a meeting held on March 5, the department is staying put. It has nowhere to go and will move to Kingsway Camp eventually but the plan is still at a "conceptual" stage.

A senior official says they moved in only because there was space. "Then in April 2011, the school was upgraded from secondary to senior secondary," he recalls. With two new classes, there was "some overcrowding". The response was to shift the primary section to Nehru Vihar. The department itself has expanded since its split from the department of women and child development and now there are about 150 people on the staff.

"As far as education is concerned, the deaf are worse off than the visually-impaired or those using wheelchairs," says Narayanan. "Ninety per cent of the deaf are either illiterate or have very low level of literacy as almost all the teaching is oral. There are 18 million deaf in India and only 250 professional interpreters."

The Lady Noyce school, which has at present 517 students on its rolls, is important for a number of reasons - it is affiliated to CBSE, is affordable, and, being residential, it draws students from all over the north. It was established in 1931 by an alumnus of Gallaudet University (for the deaf) and is the first school for the deaf in north India. Delhi government runs three primary schools for the deaf but only one secondary school.

But Narayanan and colleague Zorin Singha argue that the offices are affecting the quality of education being imparted at the school, its roll strength and security. Achla Singh disagrees, arguing that the department's visitors - the aged and the differently-abled - are no threat to the students.

As for quality, some students complain that despite being in fairly senior classes, they can barely read or write. They say that most of their teachers don't know sign language and teach orally. School principal L D Trekhi denies all this. "Nobody has been refused admission," she says, adding, "all teachers are trained and know sign language" and that the offices are not a problem.

The NGO has written many letters to the departmet and even to the chief minister since April last year but to no avail. It's now planning a dharna and gherao of the social welfare minister, Kiran Walia, if the department doesn't move out by May 10.


  1. Education in its general sense is a form of learning in which knowledge, skills, and habits of a group of people are transferred from one generation to the next through teaching, training, research, or simply through autodidacticism. Thanks for sharing a nice information.
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