National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) has criticised the draft of the New Education Policy for being “profoundly regressive” and “overwhelmingly undemocratic”.
In a press statement issued on July 4, the disabled people’s organisation talked about the failure of the policy in invoking a right-based approach and also claimed that the policy reinforces the traditional method of viewing disability.
The organisation heavily censured the Modi government for its “lackadaisical approach to matters concerning the disabled” and went on to expose the vanity of the “Accessible India” campaign – a campaign launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015 to serve the differently abled community of the country – even within the government institutions.
“With the thrust being towards commercialization, the overwhelming majority of disabled, who come from economically poor backgrounds and study in government schools, will stand deprived further. The proposals to either close down or merge schools to create school complexes, which may be far away and inaccessible, will adversely, impact the disabled,” the statement said.
The organisation pointed out the alarming contradictions between the objective of the policy – being ‘inclusive’ – and the language that has been used in the draft by the ruling government.
The draft uses the term “Children with Special Needs” which has been – according to NPRD – rejected by the persons with disabilities.
“The draft talks of school education only and avoids spelling out measures,” says the statement, “to address concerns of students enrolled for higher education, which for a variety of reasons continues to be inaccessible for persons with disabilities.”
According to the Ministry of Human Resource and Development’s own data, amongst the various groups, the highest number of out of school children are those with disabilities. In the year 2014, the figure for this group was 28.07%.
The draft, however, according to NPRD, does not lay down any concrete measure to increase the enrollment of the disabled children. On the contrary, the policy proposes to do away with the 25% reservation for marginalised sections provided for in the Right to Education Act.
The draft has also failed in addressing the issue of high number of suicides by students. By underplaying the magnitude of the issue, the proposed policy fails to acknowledge the existence of the Mental Health Care Act, 2017, added the statement.
Alleging that the financial commitment of the Modi government for the implementation of this policy is not forthcoming, the NDRP opines that the draft NEP violates the fundamental right to education of the disabled.
The press statement is issued at a time when multiple groups of people are condemning the Modi government for the education policy which is viewed as an attempt to further privatisation and commercialisation of education.
MHRD released the draft copy of the National Education Policy recently in order to seek inputs and suggestions from the citizens.