Kashmir Indepth
Kashmir

Children with disabilities struggle to study amid pandemic in Kashmir


Irfan Ahmad
Srinagar Dec 12: Amid coronavirus, children with disabilities are finding it difficult to get education in Kashmir.
The Jammu and Kashmir government on Friday announced winter vacations from December 21 in all schools up to Class 12 in the valley and in winter zone areas of the Jammu division.
As per an order issued by School Education Department Secretary B K Singh, winter vacation for all government educational institutions and recognized private schools up to the higher secondary level in the Kashmir division and in winter zone areas of Jammu division will be from December 21 to February 28.
Although students have been attending online classes and study in community schools since March this year, children with disabilities are struggling to get education in Kashmir.
“My daughter is sitting idle at her home. Unlike other students who can study online, she is hearing and speech impaired,” her father, who lives in Anantnag district told news agency Kashmir Indepth News Service (KINS).
“My daughter is not able to join online classes because she can’t hear what her teachers are saying. She understand sign language but there is no sign language interpreter for such students in schools,” he said.
He always wanted to give good education to his children.
This is not an isolated case. There are hundreds of such children with disabilities whose education has been badly hit by two back-to-back lockdowns first after abrogation of Article 370 then COVID-19 in Kashmir.
Before August 5 last year, a disabled girl from Verinag in South Kashmir would record lectures of teachers on her mobile phone then listen and study accordingly at home. However, her studies have also been badly hit by the pandemic.
“I could not study since COVID-19 broke out. Education of children with disabilities has been badly hit. We can’t study online,” she regretted.
Her father is worried as the education of his daughter has been hit. “She used to have classes in Braille language. Even if schools would have been open, children with disabilities would not go. They don’t know how to prevent infection,” his father said.
A survey conducted by Swabhiman, a community-based organization working for the rights of persons with disabilities,  revealed that about 43% of children with disabilities in various states including in Jammu and Kashmir are planning to drop out of studies due to difficulties faced by them in online education.
Javaid Ahmad Tak, 44, the chairperson of Humanity Welfare Organization Helpline, an organisation working for disabled students in Kashmir, said children with blindness and hear problems have detached from studies since COVID-19 broke out.
“These children can’t even download the Zoom App. Such children are mentally disturbed these days. They are not able to study via online mood as there is no sign language,” Javid said.
Javid said there are 1 lakh 20 thousand children with disabilities in J&K. “Presently more 40,000 children with disabilities are enrolled in schools in Kashmir,” he said.
He said most among disabled children belong to poor families and can’t afford an android mobile phone.
Government had earlier appointed 58 resources persons in Jammu and Kashmir under a centrally sponsored scheme who were teaching these specially abled children in schools.
He also runs his own school for disabled children in South Kashmir. Despite his physical limitations, he has taken up a task to back the smile on the faces of disabled population.
Javid was not born disabled. His spinal cord got damaged when some gunmen fired indiscriminately at his uncle’s home who was Block President of the National Conference in 1997. Since then he can’t walk and moves only on a wheelchair. (KINS)

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