New Delhi: Private
unaided schools here have sought government aid and two years for
putting in place infrastructure for teaching disabled children --
as desired by the Delhi High Court.
The schools told the court that the responsibility of educating
the disabled students was on the government and the burden could
not be shifted to private unaided schools.
In an affidavit filed in the court, the Action Committee of
Unaided Private Schools cited financial constraints and sought
financial support and aid from the government, besides seeking
time to set up the facilities for the disabled students.
"The government must help private schools both financially and in
kind, so that they can implement the policy for providing
education to the children with various kinds of disabilities with
proper equipment, adequate infrastructure and the government must
decide to reimburse expenses on this account," said the committee.
The court Aug 6, 2010 told schools to remove architectural
barriers from schools' premises for the movement of disabled
The affidavit was filed in response to a public interest
litigation filed by NGO Social Jurist. The NGO raised the issue of
2,039 unaided private schools and 258 government schools in the
city lacking basic facilities for the disabled students.
Most schools in the country were not disabled-friendly but the
concern of the petitioner was genuine and needed not just empathy
but a sustained effort from all, including the government,
schools, the civil society and people, the schools said.
Basic physical as well as academic infrastructure, such as special
teachers, were required for the education of the disabled children
and particularly those suffering from blindness, hearing
impairment and mental retardation, the petition said.
The failure to have these facilities in schools violated the
fundamental and human right to education of the children with
disabilities as guaranteed in the constitution, the NGO said.
The lack of facilities for the disabled in schools also violated
the right to education and the UN Convention on the Rights of the
Persons with Disabilities.
The schools said many of them had created ramps for disabled
children and also modified the toilets.
Besides the changes in the infrastructure, providing buildings
with ramps and lifts, classrooms with various educational aids,
equipment, apparatus and other material for a disabled-friendly
environment would require substantive investment something which
can only be done in phases, the committee said.
The committee informed the court about a scarcity of qualified
special teachers for the disabled and the high cost of hiring such
The schools said the sorry state of affairs could be explained in
terms of the failure of the government to address its
responsibility of educating the disabled students.
With the efficacy of the government authorities to perform their
statutory duties in the matter coming under challenge through a
petition, the Aug 6, 2010 order of the court to remove all
architectural barriers from school premises could only be
considered as a precedent to all the much-needed reforms.