Mumbai: In a desperate need for more helping hands, around 41 teachers are currently helping 12,000 students with special needs in Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) schools which means there is one skilled teacher for 292 special students. The civic department needs more teachers as the number of students with both physical or psychological needs integrated to inclusive education is increasing.
Students with special needs are now being integrated to Inclusive Education despite having physical or mental challenges. They can then study with other students in a regular school right from an early age. This method is helpful rather than integrating students to regular schools once they have crossed their teenage, according to special education officers.
Kiran Belge, special school district coordinator, Mumbai region, said, “When students finish special school, they are almost 16 years old or above. They are then expected to study for competitive tests to pursue higher education or appear for entrance examinations for further studies, sometimes they are sent to regular schools for inclusive education. It is difficult for these students to cope up at this age when they have not been exposed to the regular medium for all these years.”
Lack of special schools is another reason for parents to send their children to regular schools. Mahesh Palkar, BMC Education officer, said, “There are only four special schools in Mumbai. A majority of parents are admitting their children with special needs in regular schools.”
But the current teacher-special student ratio in BMC schools is 1:292. Vidyalakshmi Chettiar, a skilled teacher, said, “We have one skilled teacher who is catering to almost 300 special students. We need to increase this number as we require more teachers to educate more children.”