Saturday, January 25, 2014

‘Schools need qualified shadow teachers’

‘Schools need qualified shadow teachers’

Shreya Bhandary, TNN Dec 22, 2013, 03.38AM IST

MUMBAI: Inclusive education has been a point of discussion ever since the Right to Education (RTE) Act was introduced more than three years ago. But effective implementation of this clause is far from achieved. Keeping in mind the increase in cases where parents have had disputes with school managements over the rights of children with special needs, S M Shetty High School held a workshop for schools, parents and special educators on the role and importance of shadow teachers.
"Inclusive education is still on paper in India. There is a misconception that shadow teachers are just 'extra help', but their roles are very intense," said professor Rubina Lal, expert in the field of special education. In her presentation at the workshop, she focused on the need for qualified teachers taking up this role and the need for schools to play an active role in finding such teachers. "The problem in our country is that people don't take the shadow teaching profession seriously. Many schools appoint parents for this role, which is not advised," added Lal.
Education officials present at the workshop said the problem existed because of the attitude of schools and parents. "We are leaving no stones unturned to ensure that no child is targeted by school managements," said Ajay Kakde of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan (SSA). He said SSA has taken effective action in several cases in the past where parents had lodged complaints.
"The focus should be on getting schools to include kids with special needs and a curriculum to train shadow teachers. We also need to help parents in getting admissions for their kids," said psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty. Many parents and schools shared problems and sought help from professionals at the workshop.

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