Maharashtra State Policy for Persons with Disabilities(विकलांग): 3% of budget, yoga for children, says Draft policy
The Maharashtra government has come up with a new draft policy for persons with disabilities which envisages (परिकल्पना की गई है) earmarking three per cent of its total budget and using yoga to ensure development of differently abled children. The policy also proposes compulsory enrolment of certain disabled children in conventional schools to facilitate their integration(एकीकरण) into society and also calls for every school to have at least one specialised teacher for children with disabilities. The draft policy — Maharashtra State Policy for Persons with Disabilities — prepared by the state social justice department comes nearly six months after the Lok Sabha passed a disabilities bill that stipulates punishment for those who discriminate(भेदभाव) against the disabled.
The vision statement of the draft policy says the aim is to create an effective multi-sectoral coordination among concerned government agencies to ensure early detection, inclusion in education, skill building and appropriate employment, social mainstreaming and legal capacity for all the disabled, who are referred to as “divyangjans” in the policy document.
The policy states that as prevention of post-natal development delays is the key to reduce incidence of disability cases among new born, the state will create awareness campaigns to encourage pregnant and lactating women to avail institutional delivery facility, claim Rs 6,000 under Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Yojana, and avail free supply of vitamin supplements and immunisation by government PHCs.
The state will also support the development of indigenous screening and diagnostic tools to avoid incidence of disability. “Necessary surgical interventions and implants wherever recommended by medical authorities shall be facilitated by the state using Government of India subsidy and state contribution and local bodies funds from 3 per cent budgetary allocation,” the draft policy states.
The draft policy says it will promote time-tested practices, including yoga, dance and movement with music to ensure development of motor, social, and cognitive skills of children with disabilities.
“The District Collector, CEO Zilla Parishad, Municipal Commissioner and chief officers of local bodies will provide 3 per cent budgetary allocation in new District Planning and Development Committee (DPDC) schemes, for this purpose. The state will also endeavour to spend increasing amount on this component, realising that small fund allocated at this stage can in fact save a lot of public expenditure at later stage and also ensure better integration of the divyangjan,” according to the draft.
The policy aims to give priority to inclusive education for divyangjan children and only those with high support needs in terms of cognitive, behavioural or neuro disability shall be catered for special education. The Education department will work towards ensuring that children with disability do not face any discrimination and barriers in the school for which measures to sensitise fellow students, teachers and school administrators will be initiated, the draft policy says while specifying that each school should have at least one special education teacher for exclusive support of divyangjan students.
There is also a mention of inclusive education where children with and without disabilities participate and learn together in the same classes
“The state will encourage inclusive education of children who have visually impairment (including low-vision), hearing impairment, loco-motor disability, mild intellectual disability, high functioning autism, slow learning ability, learning disability, and high functioning cerebral palsy in order to build their competencies and provide equal scholastic opportunities(शैक्षिक अवसर) ,” the policy states. Besides, Intellectually Disabled, Autism and Multiple Disabled and children with high support needs will continue to receive special education that would emphasise on building their proficiency on activities of daily needs, working on their behavioural and emotional needs, personal mobility and community support.
It also states that special schools will be encouraged to provide pre-school training to students for inclusion in mainstream schools especially in the case of blind, hearing impaired and neuro development disabilities and their performance will be judged and evaluated on the basis of how many number of students have integrated successfully for inclusive education.
The state is yet to implement the policy and is presently seeking suggestions and objections from experts before it formalises it.