NEW DELHI: Twelve-year-old Raman Khanna (named changed), a student of Kendriya Vidyalaya in Janakpuri, suffers from dyslexia and dyscalculia. His
school says it doesn't know how to deal with students like him.
After ToI highlighted the plight of two dyslexic students in two indifferent schools in February this year, Raman appears to have become the latest victim of official ignorance.
Raman, a promising footballer and swimmer, is repeating Class VI after he failed to clear the exam. His school has not been able to provide him with a special educator. He does not receive extra attention in class, neither does he get instructions on homework in writing or a scribe during exams. The child's grandmother, Neeta Khanna (name changed), who has been bringing him up since his parents died a few years ago, now has nowhere to go. "If my grandson fails again this year, his school will throw him out. Where will I take him then? What's his fault that he has dyslexia? It's the teachers who should understand his special needs,'' she said.
U N Singh, joint commissioner (academics), KVS, pleaded helplessness as the sangathan has no guidelines in place on how to deal with students with special needs. "The primary problem we are facing is how to save the child as we have no rules for such problems. The dyslexia clause is not covered. We just take care of visually and orthopaedically challenged students. At present we have no idea how to deal with this case,'' he said.
Another senior official said none of the KVs are prepared to deal with such students and there are no facilities such as special educators in the system. "This is not an exception. Of late, quite a few cases of special needs are emerging. But unfortunately most of the teachers and principals are insensitive to such issues or are completely ignorant. Such issues should be dealt with at the school level rather than at the headquarters, but since schools are not equipped and the principals are not proactive, we are not able to help the students,'' he said.
Neeta has been running from pillar-to-post since March. After spending several months meeting KVS officials, Neeta was reportedly informed last month that Raman could not be promoted. "I got him evaluated by a clinical psychologist and submitted the reports to the school as well as to the KVS officials. One of the officials told me that KVs don't have enough teachers to give extra attention to any child. I was also told that I should put him in a special school. They do not even understand the difference between learning difficulty and mental disability,'' she said.
While the MHRD has been making noises about reforming education, it appears not to have put its own house in order. The KVs are run by the Central government and funded by MHRD. According to Singh, dyslexia will figure at the next academic advisory committee meeting. But till the Sangathan changes its policy, the ordeal of Raman and his grandmother will continue.
Indian teachers still not trained to tackle dyslexia
September 05, 2009
Indian teachers still not trained to tackle dyslexia
New Delhi: Until 10 years ago, India was not dealing with learning disabilities like dyslexia in school. While the picture has changed somewhat in Delhi, other states have made little progress even now, says teacher-writer Meenakshi Dave.
"It is easy to understand learning disabilities if you have seen 'Taare Zameen Par'. It shows everything that a dyslexic child has to suffer in school. A teacher has to be sensitive and trained to tackle unhappy children with learning disabilities," Dave told sources.
She is author of a new book, "Intelligent Otherwise: Identifying, Understanding and Tackling Learning Disabilities in Children". Published by Wisdom Tree, it was released this week by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, who has also written the foreword.
"In India, even 10 years ago, we were not dealing with learning disabilities in school. The Bachelor of Education (BEd) training programme for teachers in India does not have any special module to identify learning disabilities in children and address them.
"There are a few schools in the capital now like Educare, Orchid and Action Dyslexia, but the states have no such facilities," Dave said.
The US, in comparison, where nearly 27 percent of children suffer from learning disabilities, have training schools for those who want to teach children with learning flaws.
"In India, researchers say only 10 percent of children suffer from learning disabilities, but the number is growing because of parents' expectations and faster lifestyles.
"In some schools, especially in Maharashtra, the authorities and the state government are making concessions for dyslexic students like reducing the number of examination papers, plying less homework and providing scribes to children with slow writing skills during examination," Dave said.
The relaxations stem from a Bombay High Court order, the writer said.
Awareness about dyslexia was generated to a great degree in India by the film "Taare Zameen Par" by actor Aamir Khan.
The four most common form of learning disabilities among Indian children, according to Dave, are "dyslexia, dysgraphia, attention deficit syndrome and dyscalculia".
Dyslexia, said Dave, was a language communication disability which gave rise to problems in reading, spelling, writing and comprehension.
"Dysgraphia is difficulty in written language when a child mixes up 'p with q' and 'b with d'. It becomes difficult for a child to put his thoughts on paper. Dyscalculia is a problem with numbers when children slip in mathematics and muddle double-digit numbers," Dave said.
But most children with learning disabilities can overcome them if they receive help in the early stages and even develop an IQ above the average.
"A child with learning disabilities usually has unique strengths. Many of them are good in music, arts and sports. It is up to the teacher to identify them and change the methods of teaching," said the writer, who has been a teacher for the better part of her life across the world.
Divided into three segments, the book begins with an introduction to general learning disabilities and subsequently lists their characteristics and causes. It then tries to assess and identify the disorders and probes each one of them separately.
The last section looks at learning disabilities in the Indian context and informs parents, teachers and readers about the government support system for children with special needs.
"I have a degree in teaching children with learning disabilities from the Washington Lab School and have also taught dyslexic children in the US when my husband was posted there," Dave said.
Some of the famous "children" with learning disabilities who grew up to be geniuses, as Dave lists in her book, are "Albert Einstein, the mathematical genius, who did not speak till three, Nelson Rockefeller, who had a serious problem with reading, Thomas Alva Edison, who was mentally addled; and former US president Woodrow Wilson, who did not learn his letters till he was nine years old". IANS