Many (if not most!) disabled persons are hidden away, stigmatized, and hardly exist in any official way, according to statistics and the community. Needless to say, they face more problems than most in accessing school and in receiving an education that both recognizes and meets their special needs as well as including them in society on an equal footing, giving them equal life opportunities.
An activist Shampa Sengupta, who has been striving for issues related to disability rights has stressed the importance of RTE to children with disability. She says Education is an universal and must extend to all children, youths and adults, including people with disabilities also.
Talking about the Disability rights in Education she highlighted the appalling situation when it come to education facilities for children with disabilities.
She said "More than a half of school dropouts were disabled students, and many of them were discriminated against." "On one hand is the Sarva Shiksha Mission along with few private schools trying to admit some disabled children, and on the other we have schemes like Higher Education for Persons with Special Needs (HEPSN) by the UGC for their Higher Education."
She further pointed out "Yet we find few disabled people included in the education system. Not just the students but the staffs and teachers of educational institutions are denied their rights on a regular basis. Duties and responsibilities of inclusion are on all of us".
Shampa who is associated with the Sruthi Disability Rights Centre and West Bengal's Paschim Banga Rajya Pratibandhi Sammelani, an affiliate of National Platform for the Rights if Disabled.
The discussion was held on the topics "Inclusion in Education: Reality Check" organized by the not-for-profit philanthropic organization foundation for Social Transformation (FST) operating across the seven states of the North East region.
About RTE to Disabled Children.
The democratic and human-rights based intent of Inclusive Education is defined in the Salamanca Statement, and represented in the "recognition of the need to work towards ‘schools for all' -institutions which include everybody, celebrate differences, support learning, and respond to individual needs".
Across the CEECIS Region, the total number of children who are now officially recognized as disabled, tripled from about 500,000 in 1990, to 1.5 million in 2002. However, when compared to international benchmarks that place the global percentage of children with disabilities at 2.5 per cent, this figure suggests that over a million children with disabilities are not included in the data, and are rendered invisible. In the CEECIS Region, the number of children in institutional care is the highest in the world.
UNICEF estimates that across CEECIS, a child with a disability is almost 17 times as likely to be institutionalized as one who is not disabled.
More than 626,000 children are institutionalized, and the rate of children in institutional care increased between 2000 and 2007, with approximately 60% of all institutionalized children being registered as children with disabilities. It can further be estimated that approximately 1,1 million children with disabilities in the CEECIS Region remain unaccounted for, and likely out-of-school.