The Government of India’s appreciation of the need to integrate children with special needs came in 1974, when the Union Ministry of Welfare launched the centrally sponsored scheme of Integrated Education of Disabled Children (IEDC). In 1982, this scheme was transferred over to the then Department of Education of the Ministry of Human Resource Development. The centrally sponsored scheme of Integrated Education of the Disabled Children provides educational opportunities for the disabled children in common schools, to facilitate their retention in the school system, and also to place in common schools, such children already placed in special schools after they acquire the communication and the daily living skills at the functional level. The scheme provides for the following:
• Actual expenses on books and stationery upto Rs. 400 per annum
• Actual expenses on uniforms upto Rs. 200 per annum
• Transport allowance upto Rs. 50 per month. If a disabled child resides in the school hostel within the school premises, no transportation charges would be admissible
• Reader allowance of Rs. 50 per month in case of blind children upto Class V
• Escort allowance for severely disabled children with lower extremity disability at the rate of Rs. 75 per month • Actual cost of equipment subject to a maximum of Rs. 2000 per month for a period of five years.
EDUCATION OF CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS IN SSA Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is an endeavour to provide eight years of quality education to all children in the 6-14 age group by 2010. The objectives of SSA mainly focus on increasing access, enrolment and retention of all children as well as improving the quality of education. The objectives of SSA can only be realized, if CWSN are also included under the ambit of elementary education. Realizing the importance of integrating special children in regular schools, SSA framework has made adequate provisions for educating CWSN. Supplementary Schemes: Scholarship: The Government of India started giving scholarships for elementary and higher education to the visually impaired, hearing impaired and locomotor impaired children in 1955. Gradually, the number of scholars rose to 10,000. In 1974 the scheme was transferred to the states and today most of the states are awarding scholarships to those children with special needs who are pursuing elementary education in regular schools without support services. Scheme of Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase/Fitting of Aids and Appliances (ADIP) Scheme: Education of CWSN cannot be successful until they are provided those essential aids and appliances that enhance their functional ability. Therefore, the Union Ministry of Social Welfare in 1981 launched the ADIP Scheme. The main objective of the scheme is to assist the needy disabled children in procuring durable, sophisticated and scientifically manufactured, modern, standard aids and appliances that can promote their physical, social and psychological well being by enhancing their educational potential. The scheme provides aids and appliances to locomotor disabled, visually disabled, hearing disabled, mentally disabled and multiple disabled. Initial Experiments on Integrated Education in India: The early attempts to include CWSN in regular schools were through Project Integrated Education for the Disabled (PIED) and District Primary Education Programme (DPEP).
Project Integrated Education for the Disabled (PIED): The first pilot project on integrated education in India came in the form of Project Integrated Education for the Disabled (PIED). PIED launched in 1987, was a joint venture of MHRD and UNICEF. This project was implemented in one administrative block each in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Orissa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Mizoram, Delhi Municipal Corporation and Baroda Municipal Corporation. In these ten blocks, 6000 children with special needs were integrated in regular schools.
District Primary Education Programme (DPEP): The success of PIED led to the inclusion of the component of Integrated Education of the Disabled (IED) in DPEP, a scheme launched by the Government of India for the development of elementary education. At present, IED in DPEP is going on in 242 districts of 18 states. In these states, approximately 6.21 lakh children with special needs have been enrolled in regular schools with adequate support services.
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA): A recent initiative of the Government of India to Universalise Elementary Education is Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). SSA is a response to the demand for quality basic education all over the country. However, UEE cannot be achieved unless children with special needs are also provided access to education. Hence, education of CWSN is an essential part of the SSA framework.