Srinagar, May 23: In a significant move towards inclusive education, the school education department has shifted its focus on early identification and mainstreaming of Children With Special Needs (CWSN).
In this regard, the Directorate of School Education (DSEK) has issued a communication to all the Chief Education Officers (CEOs) of Kashmir to intensify the measures for annual exercise for early screening and identification of children with disabilities.
As per the communication, the screening is to be done through Prashast mobile application in case of physical, intellectual or learning disabilities.
"So that they may be given the right kind of interventions at a very early age to help them overcome academic difficulties that they may face at higher levels of education," the communication reads.
Notably, the National Education Policy (NEP)-2020 aligns itself with the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act 2016, emphasizing the need for equal opportunities for all students.
"The NEP acknowledges inclusive education as a system where students with and without disabilities learn together, and teaching methods are tailored to accommodate the diverse learning needs of students with disabilities," the communication reads.
It also aims to ensure barrier-free access to education for all children with disabilities.
The communication reads that according to the recent National Sample Survey (NSS), which adopted the definition of 21 disabilities, it has been determined that 1.5 percent of students in Jammu and Kashmir fall under the category of CWSN.
"Currently, there are 19,867 enrolled CWSN in J&K, ranging from Pre-Primary to Higher Secondary levels. However, a concerning trend has been observed as per the UDISE+ data, which indicates a significant dropout rate among children with special needs starting from class VIII onwards," the communication reads.
In view of this, the authorities in the education department are urging for intensified efforts in the annual screening and identification of children with disabilities.
An official said the use of the Prashast mobile app has been proposed to facilitate this process, aiming to identify various types of disabilities, including physical, intellectual, and learning disabilities.
"By identifying these challenges at an early age, it becomes possible to provide appropriate interventions to help children overcome potential academic difficulties they may encounter at higher levels of education," the official said.
He said the implementation of early screening and identification measures is seen as crucial in ensuring that children with special needs receive the necessary support and interventions from an early age.
"By addressing their unique requirements, it becomes possible to create an inclusive educational environment that promotes their holistic development and maximizes their potential," the official said.