It is unreasonable for special educators to have specific teachers for the student ratio

The government told a bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar that the aim was to train as many general teachers as possible so that they could reach out to children with special needs and that this was being done on an “active scale”.

The Center on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that it was “not practical” to determine a specific teacher-student ratio for special needs students for children with special needs in general schools due to uncertainty over the number of such students. The government told a bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar that the policy is to try and train as many general teachers as possible so that they are able to cater to children with special needs and this is being done on an “active scale”.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Madhavi Diwan, appearing for the Ministry of Education, said there are general schools and special schools that cater to the specific needs of children with special needs.

“In a typical school, we think it is neither possible nor practical to determine a certain ratio in the range of disabilities in view of the uncertainty of how many children can be in that class. So, the principle is – try and train as many teachers as general teachers to take care of the disabled children. This is being done on an active scale, ”ASG told a bench comprising Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and City Ravi Kumar.

Additional Solicitor General Devon said the policy is to try and make sure there are specialized educators and that it is up to the state government to decide exactly how many they want.

The bench, hearing an application for the appointment of specially qualified special teachers for imparting quality training and education to children with disabilities, reserved its order in this regard. Devon told the bench that about 4,000 government posts are now reserved for people with special needs and, therefore, they are now occupying a much larger number of public posts than ever before. Disabled children who need to go to school, ”the bench asked.

Devon, while arguing that they do not have the details of the area but have a detailed picture, said he would get better guidance on the matter. The bench observed that in a given area, there may be more children with special needs for whom the authorities need to provide infrastructure and schools and formulate a “flexible policy” for this.

“Suppose, in a given school, there are 10 students, you can have at least one teacher ratio to solve the problem of specially-disabled. If a given school has 100 students, the same ratio will be 10 teachers for every 100 students. It has to be developed by you, ”the bench said.

Devon said the education ministry thinks state governments want to drop that call, depending on their regional needs.

The bench was present on behalf of the petitioners and also heard the submissions of Advocate Shoaib Alam and other lawyers. He argued that the need to fix the student-teacher ratio under the provisions of the RTE Act read with the relevant rules is a statutory duty of the central government. He said the central government has no authority to give the states the power to set the ratio.

The Center had earlier told the apex court that there was a dedicated component for the education of children with special needs as part of the ‘Whole Education’ project and that assistance was provided to address their needs in ordinary schools.

In an additional affidavit filed in the court, the central government said that a number of provisions for children with special needs have been included under the ‘Whole Education’ scheme and increased the assistance from Rs 3,000 to Rs 3,500 per child per annum. It said that according to the data available with the Unified District Information System for Education, there are 22.5 lakh children with special needs in the country.

“In terms of teachers, according to the information received, 4.33 lakh general teachers have been trained to teach ordinary children as well as children with special needs. There are also 28,535 special teachers for children with special needs, ”the affidavit said. An affidavit was filed in the court, which is hearing a case regarding the obligation of schools, including the concerned state government, to ensure the appointment of appropriately qualified special teachers to provide quality training to children with disabilities in the proportion mentioned in the center. Schemes proposed by the Central Government from time to time and their terms of service. It stated that the ‘Whole Education’ project was in line with the Children’s Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.


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