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Nursery admission: Notice to LG on clubbing poor, disabled category

Posted on Feb 21 2014 | IANS

New Delhi, Feb 21 : The Delhi High Court Friday issued notice to the Lt Governor on a PIL challenging fresh nursery admission guidelines which club the economically weaker section (EWS) category with that of children with disabilities.

Justice Ravindra Bhat and Justice R.V. Easwar also issued notice to ministry of human resource development and Delhi government's education department on a plea also seeking three percent seats for children with disabilities in the aided and unaided private schools in Delhi.

The bench, posting the matter for Feb 25, asked the lt. governor asking to appraise the court on keeping three percent seats reserved for disabled children in the schools as per earlier guidelines.

Advocate Zubeda Begum appearing for Delhi government told the court that she will seek instruction from the lt. governor on the issue.

On Dec 18, 2013, fresh guidelines had been issued whereby disabled children have been clubbed with children of economically weaker section in a common 25 percent quota for the purpose of admission of children in nursery. Earlier up to 3 percent seats for children with special education needs were reserved.

During the hearing, senior advocate Kirti Uppal, appearing for petitioner Pramod Arora, told the court that the clubbing together of the two categories is "unreasonable" as the challenges faced by these two classes of children differ greatly.

"Both category faces different challenges, especially from the point of view of education where much greater care and attention is required to be given to children with disabilities whereas children from economically weaker sections can more easily assimilate with the general category of students as they do not suffer from any form of cognitive or learning disability," said Uppal.

Uppal also told that the new criteria reducing the opportunities of disabled children to have access to education in the Schools.

He added that the interest of children with special needs or disabilities have been "completely ignored" in the attempt by the authorities concerned to make free education available to as many children as possible.

He told the court that on an average in every school the number of applications received for EWS quota is close to 4,000 and there are about 25 out of 100 seats for the EWS category and the disadvantaged group put together.

"The number of children applying under the group of children with disabilities is about 15 per school. As per the new guidelines, a common lottery draw has been recommended for this clubbed group. Therefore, the probability of three to four children with special needs being selected out of 4000 odd children is very miniscule," he contended.

The petition said that as per the data available out of 237 schools in Delhi, only 43 schools have capability to cater the needs of disabled children.

The petition also stated that "it is also a matter of very serious concern that only a few schools have the necessary infrastructure to cater to the needs of such children, despite directions to such schools by the high court to provide the necessary infrastructure. Therefore also, such children stand to be completely disadvantaged.

The plea also sought quashing of the amendment to section 2(d) of the Right to Education Act, 2009, clubbing the two categories.

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