Showing posts with label Education of deaf in India. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Education of deaf in India. Show all posts

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.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Present education system is inaccessible to deaf

Our entire education system, even the special schools /infrastructure created for the hearing impaired (barring few exceptions) is unwelcoming and inaccessible to the deaf children. Need of interpreters at public places is one demand from the sector to make the environment accessible for the hearing and speech impaired. However, the effort of mainstreaming or of providing interpreters will not bring the desired result if the root cause is not targeted. 

The education system in the Government Schools for the Deaf is unscientific and results in only 2-3% pass percentage at matriculation level in a state like Delhi. I personally know this since I have seen several deaf young adults re-attempting the matriculation exam time and again to get those 33% but with rot learning and remembering the paragraph visually will not lead to formation of correct sentences. Majority of deaf children who have passed 10th from the Government deaf schools can not write a full paragraph of their own which is grammatically correct - in any language - be it Hindi or English. Is this what we are aspiring for?

The whole education system for the deaf needs an overhaul with sign language also getting its due place in the  overall education system. The teachers and supporting staff do not know sign language. So much so, the deaf person remain alienated in their own families since there is hardly any effort or facility to train the family members in sign language.  A deaf person always prefers to marry another deaf person indicates the level of their alienation from the mainstream society. 

Unless we did something to remove this alienation due to lack of communication with the deaf children / persons in various walks of life - be it education, employment or social inclusion, the deaf will continue to suffer and government will continue to help them become handicapped and excluded.

The report below from UP reveals the ground realities being faced by people.

TNN | Nov 14, 2012, 01.28 AM IST

LUCKNOW: As a child Vijendra, 28-year-old always wanted to be a gazetted officer. Though deaf and mute, he overcame disability with his sheer willpower and hard work, and cleared the examinations with good grades. However, the pathetic state of affairs in the two government schools meant for hearing-impaired children (in Agra and Gorakhpur till class 10thh forced Vijendra to take admission in a regular school in class ninth, which neither had trained teachers nor facilities needed to meet the special needs of the children like him. As a result, he failed twice to clear class 10th examination, lost his confidence and saw his dreams virtually crashing. Vijendra had no other option, but to leave studies and take up job for the sake of his family. Today, Vijendra works as a helper in an outlet of a retail giant. His job is to bring back the trolley left by people at parking and for this he gets Rs 3,500 per month.

"There are many like me, who want to do something big in life but cannot because there are no schools for us," said Vijendra while narrating the difficulties he underwent in a regular school. Similar is the case of Sanjay Singh, who is working at an outlet of a retail giant.

As per official estimates, there are around three million deaf children in India and around 25,000 such children take birth every year. According to disabled welfare department, the population of deaf and mute people in the state is about eight lakh including around 4,80,000 deaf children. In the absence of a special school, around 50% students with hearing impairment drop out after basic education in India every year. The situation in UP is said to be worse. According to a study conducted by Kaushalendra Kumar, a teacher at NC Chaturvedi School for Deaf, the drop out rate of deaf and mute students after class eighth in UP is 95%. "For deaf children, normal school is like a river in which they get drowned, as they do not know how to cross it," said Kumar.

Even if a deaf and mute student is able to clear the school level, there are no facilities for them in the higher education. Take the example of Faizal (22) who managed to clear class 10th and 12th from a normal school, but found that there is no college with facilities for hearing impaired in higher education. There is a university for disabled - UP Viklang Uddhar Dr Shakuntala Mishra Rehabilitation University, but it does not have facilities for hearing impaired. Faizal took admission in BA, but found that the teachers at the university teach orally and do not use the sign language for hearing impaired or an interpreter. "As I am deaf by birth, I cannot speak and hence there is no communication between me and the teacher," said a visibly angry Faizal whose repeated request to provide an interpreter fell on the deaf ears of the university authorities.

Not only education, there are no facilities for the hearing impaired as far as sports is concerned. Raj Kumar (23) left school after class eighth. But he is a good cricket player and was selected as an all-rounder North Zone in 2010. But after that, as there was no coaching or resources available for him, he did not qualify for any other cricket match. Now he is searching for job for livelihood. Earlier, the youth and sports department of the state used to give a grant of Rs two lakh per annum for sports activities of deaf children. However, the grant was discontinued in 2004 on grounds that it has funds only to support 'normal' sportspersons. When the deaf sportsperson went to the disabled welfare department with the request, they were sent back to sports department. They are running from pillar to post since then.

Significantly, there are number of hearing impaired sportsperson in UP who have done well at the national and international level. Asif Ayubi has won several medals at the state and national levels in 10,000 metre race and stood fourth in Melbourne Deaflympics in 2005. Vikram Singh, brought laurels to the country by winning a bronze medal in the 3rd Asia Pacific International Badminton championship. However, their career in sports was cut short after the sports department stopped the grant. "Many think that the sports and extra-curricular activities for the disabled are useless, but the fact is that it helps in breaking the communication barriers and improves self-confidence. Many deaf children have excelled in life after improvement in their communication abilities," said Rajeev Kumar Sharma, general secretary, Uttar Pradesh Sports Council for Deaf.

Sharma is himself a deaf person and is an example for others to follow. Hailing from a poor family, Sharma's parents did not spend on his education. But they educated his younger brother who was not disabled. To support his studies, Sharma sold water, watches and toys at Kaiserbagh bus stand for many years. In the morning, he used to go to school and also used to take typing classes, while in the noon and evening, he used to sell such items. He passed class eighth from NC Chaturvedi School For Deaf and class 10{+t}{+h} from a regular school in the year 1988. He got the job of typist in the Army in 1992. At presently, he is the office superintendent.

While talking to TOI, principal secretary, handicap welfare department, VN Garg said that there is need to add more schools for deaf children because two schools till class 10{+t}{+h} in the state are not enough for a large number of students. "But we face problem of shortage of funds and trained teachers. The average per capita expenses incurred on a disabled child's education is three times higher than a normal child. Apart from infrastructure, we need to provide all kind of incentives to disabled students," said Garg.

Commenting on the need of an interpreter for students with hearing disabilities, registrar, UP Viklang Uddhar Dr Shakuntala Mishra Rehabilitation University, SK Srivastava said, "We are aware about the problem and we will appoint the interpreters when we will find them, as there is scarcity of such teachers in the market." He added that the students are not facing difficulties in the studies, as they can understand what is written on blackboard or projector. All of them have passed class XII without the help of an interpreter.