City schools in dire need of skilled teachers for learning-impaired students
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The immediate need for emphasis on training teachers to handle children with learning disabilities emerged as a common concern amongst experts who had come together for the symposium: 'Early Identification, Assessment and Intervention of children with Learning Disabilities' on Thursday. The symposium was organised by Prayaas, a rehabilitation centre for handicapped children. The lectures concentrated on timely identification of a learning disability, its psycho-socio aspects and management of such children within the framework of the classroom.
"The administration needs to create space for teachers within schools who can take care of special children," said Himangshu Das, a senior consultant at the National Centre for Disabilities Studies, IGNOU (Indira Gandhi National Open University). "Estimation goes that Chandigarh schools are under-staffed as far as skilled teachers who can deal with children with learning disabilities is concerned. Assuming the percentage of such children is ten percent of the population of the city and that one special trainer is required for every ten such children, it will take around twenty more years for Chandigarh to be able to fulfill its requirement for such trainers," Das added.
It was highlighted that there are not enough programmes being run to equip teachers with skills to teach children with learning disabilities. "There is only one centre in the city that provides a diploma to teach children with only one kind of disability (mental retardation) while there are seven other types of disabilities. We want that more centres be affiliated with the Rehabilitation Council of India to offer more courses to teachers," said Dr Raj Kumar Gupta, honorary director at Prayaas.
Dr Neeradha Chandramaohan, director of NIEPMD (National Institute of Persons with Multiple Disabilities) emphasised that these children need not be singled out from amongst the batch but be integrated within the framework of the classroom itself. "There is no need to employ special teachers in particular, but all school teachers should be trained to manage children with such disabilities," she said, adding that motivation of the disabled children would be boosted if they are provided incentives for good performance and remedial classes should be arranged.
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