While the whole education fabric has exposed a massive change for the population belonging to the mainstream section of the society, the differently abled section of the society have experienced social inclusion through favorable policy frameworks.
By Prashant Agarwal
Literacy is not the mere essence of being educated but, it is a sense of attaining a dignified status in the society and being well aware of your own rights towards a more sustainable society. With the change in the entire system post COVID-19, the whole curriculum and the institutional landscape has seen a sea change with changing pedagogies, change in the job scenarios and change in the overall functionality across the entire education infrastructure. While the whole education fabric has exposed a massive change for the population belonging to the mainstream section of the society, the differently abled section of the society have experienced social inclusion through favorable policy frameworks. Along with this, ‘Skill Development’ on the other hand has played a huge role in creating brighter and better opportunities for the differently abled section of the society.
As per the 2011 Census (Updated in 2016) in India out of the 121 Cr population, 2.68 Cr persons are disabled which accounts to about 2.21% of the total population. The total differently abled population as per 2011 Census (updated in 2016), 1.46 crore are literate which accounts to about 54.5% of the total population whereas, 1.21 crore are not literate. According to the data related to the gap in skills training released by Census 2011, 104 million new employees would need skills training and 298 million of the current workforce would require additional skills training by 2022. This obviously highlights the gap and the scope of skilling the human capital by upskilling them through Skill Development Programs / Trainings or Vocational Trainings in a field of their choice.
According to the ‘Household Social Consumption: Education in India as part of 75th round of National Sample Survey – from July 2017 to June 2018’ it states that Kerala has 96.2% literacy rate whereas Delhi has the best literacy rate at 88.7%, followed by Uttarkhand’s 87.6%, Himachal Pradesh’s 86.6 per cent and Assam’s at 85.9%. As per the survey Rajasthan is the second worst performer with literacy rate at 69.7%, followed by Bihar at 70.9%, Telangana at 72.8%, Uttar Pradesh at 73% and Madhya Pradesh at 73.7%.
In rural areas, the literacy rate is 73.5% compared to 87.7% in urban areas of the country. As per the Census of 2011, the Literacy rates by the type of disability in India was 49.3% on 2001 whereas that in 2011 was 54.5%. The literacy and education status for people with visual imarity or diability in seeing was 49.8% in 2001 and 52.8% in 2011, for people with speech disability was 36.2% in 2001 and 59.6% in 2011, the literacy rates for the ones with hearing disabilities was 43.2% in 2001 and 58.3% in 2011. This shows a graph where the literacy rates have been jumping upwards showcasing the desire and the acceptance of people who are differently abled to be educated.
The status of literacy and education amongst the differently abled has been fully promoted by the government as there have been various schemes that were launched by the Government and Private Organisations for the upliftment of the differently abled community.
The Divyangjan Swavalamban Yojana Scheme for Persons with Disabilities was launched to assist the needy disabled persons by providing concessional loan for economic and overall empowerment. This scheme was launched for the differently abled who wished to begin any activity contributing directly or indirectly in the income generation or helping Persons with Disabilities (PwD) in their overall process of empowerment.
AICTE : Saksham Scholarship scheme for Student with Disabilities is a MHRD Scheme being implemented by of AICTE aimed at providing encouragement and support to specially abled children to pursue Technical Education. This is an attempt to give every young student, who is otherwise specially abled, the opportunity too study further and prepare for a successful future.
Written Exam Compensatory Time for persons with disabilities – UGC: All the candidates with benchmark disabilities who are eligible for availing the facility of scribe in terms of guidelines IV may be allowed addition time of minimum of one hour for examination of 3 hours duration whether they use the facility of scribe or not.
Other schemes that were launched for creating a sustainable livelihood for the differently abled are Loan facility to visually impaired by Housing Finance Companies, Withdrawal of pension by Persons with Disabilities, old and sick incapacitated pensioners, Banking Facility for Persons with Disabilities and Senior Citizens (RBI Circulars), Professional Tax Exemptions for Persons with Disabilities (Tamil Nadu), Income Tax Deductions for Persons with Disabilities (2019 Update) and many more.
Considering the many schemes that have been launched by the government organizations have opened their doors to recruit the differently abled as more and more have been focused on being skilled. According to the report on Disabled Persons in India-A statistical profile 2016, the National Policy for Persons with Disabilities (2006), recognizes that, Persons with Disabilities (PwD) are valuable human resources for the country. The policy seeks to create an environment that provides equal opportunities, protection of their rights of the differently abled along with full participation in the society. Another initiative is the one under PMKVY which has been offering skill certifications. The sole objective of this initiative was to enable a large proportion of youth in India to take up industry skill training for securing a better livelihood.
Skill Council for Persons with Disability (SCPwD) is one such organization that was created with a National Vision of skilling Persons with Disability and offering them meaningful industry relevant skill based training.
On the day of celebrating International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), Narayan Seva Sansthan is inviting individuals from all over India for free skill development courses so that they can lead a better life in mainstream society with equal respect and opportunity without discrimination.
(The author is President of Narayan Seva Sansthan. NSS is a non-profit organization serving differently abled and underprivileged individuals. Views expressed are personal.)