New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has sought the Centre’s response on a plea seeking to ensure the Right to Education for children with disabilities.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar issued notice to the Centre and the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, asking them to file a response within four weeks and listed the matter on March 6 next year.
The plea, filed by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, said India, having ratified the United Nation Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, was under an obligation to make ‘inclusive education’ effective in all schools in the country.
Inclusive education is a system of education wherein students, with or without disability, learn together and the system of teaching and learning is suitably adapted.
The petition has alleged that non-inclusion of norms and standards specific to children with disabilities in the Right to Education (RTE) Act results in a situation where schools, which are required to obtain recognition under the Act, are under no obligation to ensure that such facilities are provided by them to the children with disabilities.
“The right to education of children with disabilities makes it the government’s obligation to ensure that schools provide the requisite facilities to meet the learning needs of different types of students with disabilities,” it said.
In order to satisfy the commitment made under the UN Convention, provisions related to ‘inclusive education’ ought to have been included under the RTE Act, the plea said.
“However, by only ensuring access to mainstream schools without clearly specifying norms and standards for inclusion, individualised support and reasonable accommodation, the RTE Act is merely paying lip service to the concept of inclusive education,” it said.
The petition sought to issue directions to the Centre to introduce norms and standards of inclusive education within the ambit of the RTE Act. It also sought ensuring that the requirements of inclusive education are met by all schools and enforced in case of non-compliance.
The principle of inclusive education was adopted in 2006 by the United Nations under the United Nation Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities. India had ratified it in 2007.
Article 24 of the UN Convention provides that State parties will ensure the provision of an inclusive education system at all levels for realising the right to education and on the basis of equal opportunity.