The Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that it is “not practical” to prescribe a specific teacher-pupil ratio of special educators for children with special needs in general schools given the uncertainty about the number of such students there. The government told a bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar that the policy is to try and train as many general teachers so that they are able to cater to the children with special needs and this is being done on an “active scale”.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Madhavi Divan, appearing for the Ministry of Education, said there are general schools and special schools which cater to the specific needs of children with special needs.
“In a general school, we feel that it is not possible and not practical to prescribe a specific ratio given the range of disability, given the uncertainty of how many children in that class there may be. So, therefore, the policy is – try and train as many teachers who are general teachers to be able to cater to those children with disabilities. That is being done on an active scale,” the ASG told the bench, also comprising justices Dinesh Maheshwari and C T Ravikumar.
Additional Solicitor General Divan said secondly, the policy is also to try and ensure that there are special educators and that is left to the state government and they can prescribe how many they want if they want specifically.
In an additional affidavit filed in the court, the Centre government had said that several provisions for children with special needs have been included under the ‘Samagra Shiksha’ scheme and the support has been enhanced from Rs 3,000 per child per annum to Rs 3,500. It had said as per the data available with unified district information system for education, there are 22.5 lakh children with special needs in the country.
“In terms of teachers, as per data available, 4.33 lakh general teachers have been trained to teach children with special needs in addition to teaching general children. There are also 28,535 special teachers for children with special needs,” the affidavit had said. The affidavit was filed in the court which is hearing a matter raising the issue about obligation of schools, including of the concerned state government to ensure appointment of duly qualified special teachers to impart quality training to children with disability in the ratio enunciated in central enactments as also the schemes propounded by the Central government from time to time and their service conditions. It had said the ‘Samagra Shiksha’ scheme is in consonance with the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.