Unit IV: Significant Legal/Policy Initiatives Concerning Education of Children with Disabilities

4.1. United Nations Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and Incheon Strategy

4.2. The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995/ Replacement Legislation

4.3. National Trust Act for Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities (1999)

4.4. National Policy for Persons with Disabilities (2006)

4.5. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE) (2009) along with Amendment


4.1. United Nations Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and Incheon Strategy

United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 2006

In November 2001, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resution to establish an ad hoc committee to consider proposals for a Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The proposed convention aimed to give status, authority and visibility to disability as a human rights issue in a way that would have been impossible to achieve by any other means. After that, at its concluding session in August 2006, the committee adopted the draft of the proposed convention, which was subsequently adopted by the UN General Assembly on 13 December 2006, and became open for signature by Member States from 30 March 2007. States, as well as regional integration organizations, become parties to the Convention and to its Optional Protocol either by signing and ratifying the instrumentsor by acceding to them. Signature conveys the intention to take steps towards ratification at the international level, in the prospect of compliance with the respective provisions. More than 80 Member States and many NGOs took part in the signing ceremony and the subsequent dialogue on implementation. As of 15 August 2007, 101 countries had signed the Convention, and 4 countries-Croatia, Hungary, Jamaica and Panama – had ratified it. For entry into force, it is necessary that the Convention receive 20 ratifications.

CRPD and its Optional Protocol were adopted in December 2006 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

It is the first comprehensive human rights treaty in 21st century. There were 82 signatories to the Convention, 44 signatories to the Optional Protocol. China is not an exception; it signed the Convention1 on March 30, 2007, and ratified it on August 1, 2008,2 effective in China on August 31, 2008.

The Convention is a human rights instrument with an explicit social development dimension. It adopts abroad categorization of persons with disabilities and reaffirms that all persons with all types of disabilities must enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms. It clarifies and describes how all categories of rights apply to persons with disabilities and identifies areas where adaptations have to be made for persons with disabilities to effectively exercise their rights and areas where the protection of their rights must be reinforced.

The General Principles of the Convention (article 3) are fundamental to all articles of the Convention and to its implementation by member States. They are as follows:

·        Respect for the inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one‘s own choices, and independence of persons.

·        Non-discrimination.

·        Full and effective participation and inclusion in society.

·        Respect for difference of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity.

·        Equality of opportunity.

·        Accessibility.

·        Equality between men and women.

Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.

The article of the Convention with particular implications for children on education is article 24. It reflects a clear commitment to the principle of inclusive education as a goal. It also addresses the specific needs of children with severe and complex sensory impairments for access to specific supports. States Parties shall enable persons with disabilities to learn life and social development skills to facilitate their full and equal participation in education and as members of the community. To this end, States Parties shall take appropriate measures, including:

·        Facilitating the learning of Braille, alternative script, augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication and orientation and mobility skills, and facilitating peer support and mentoring;

·        Facilitating the learning of sign language and the promotion of the linguistic identity of the deaf community;

·        Ensuring that the education of persons, and in particular children, who are blind, deaf or deafblind, is delivered in the most appropriate languages and modes and means of communication for the individual, and in environments which maximize academic and social development.

In Article 24, states are to ensure equal access to primary and secondary education, vocational training, adult education and lifelong learning. Education is to employ the appropriate materials, techniques and forms of communication. Pupils with support needs are to receive support measures, and pupils who are blind, deaf and deafblind are to receive their education in the most appropriate modes of communication from teachers who are fluent in sign language and Braille. Education of persons with disabilities must foster their participation in society, their sense of dignity and self worth and the development of their personality, abilities and creativity.

INCHEON Strategy to “Make the Right Real” for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific

The High Level Inter-Governmental Mid-Point review meeting of Asia and Pacific Decade for Persons with Disabilities, 2013 - 2022 was held in Beijing with Indian delegation led by Union Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment.

Key Highlights of Meeting

·        United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) in cooperation with China Disabled Persons’ Federation (CDPF) organized the meeting:

·        Review progress made by member States during Decade at mid-point in 2017 with regard to Incheon Strategy

·        Make all rights real for persons with disabilities in Asia and Pacific

·        Discuss future policy for building disabilities-inclusive societies using synergies between 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Incheon Strategy.

·        Address gaps and challenges in empowerment and inclusion of persons with disabilities.

What is Incheon Strategy?

·        The Incheon Strategy provides the Asian and Pacific region, and the world, with the first set of regionally agreed disability-inclusive development goals.

·        ESCAP secretariat is mandated to report every three years until the end of the Decade in 2022, on progress in the implementation of the Ministerial Declaration and the Incheon Strategy.

·        These goals are developed in consultations with governments and civil society stakeholders. Incheon Strategy comprises 10 goals, 27 targets, and 62 indicators building on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Biwako Millennium Framework for Action and Biwako Plus Five towards an Inclusive, Barrier-free and Rights-based Society for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific.

·        Enables the region to improve the quality of life, and the fulfil the rights, of 650 million persons with disabilities.


4.2. The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995/ Replacement Legislation

The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protections of Right and Full Participation) Act, 1995 stresses the need to provide free of cost education to all children in an appropriate environment till they are 18 years old and further emphasise their right to measures like:

·        Transport facilities to students with disability or alternative financial incentives to the parents or guardians to enable their children with disability to attend schools;

·        Removal of architectural barriers from schools, colleges or other institutions imparting vocational and professional training;

·        Supply of books, uniforms and other materials to students with disability attending school;

·        Grant of scholarship to the students with disability

·        Setting up of appropriate fora for the redressal of grievances of parents regarding the placement of their children with disability;

·        Suitable modification in the examination system to eliminate purely mathematical questions for the benefit of blind students and students with low vision;

·        Restructuring of curriculum for the benefit of students with disability; and

·        Restructuring the curriculum for the benefit of students with hearing impairment to facilitate them to take only one language as part of their curriculum.

4.3. National Trust Act for Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities (1999)

The objectives of the National Trust are:


4.4. National Policy for Persons with Disabilities (2006)

The Government of India formulated the National Policy for Persons with Disabilities in February 2006 which deals with Physical, Educational & Economic Rehabilitation of persons with disabilities. In addition the policy also focuses upon rehabilitation of women and children with disabilities, barrier free environment, social security, research etc.

The National Policy recognizes that Persons with Disabilities are valuable human resource for the country and seeks to create an environment that provides them equal opportunities, protection of their rights and full participation in society.

The focus of the policy is on the following

Prevention of Disabilities - Since disability, in a large number of cases, is preventable, the policy lays a strong emphasis on prevention of disabilities. It calls for programme for prevention of diseases, which result in disability and the creation of awareness regarding measures to be taken for prevention of disabilities during the period of pregnancy and thereafter to be intensified and their coverage expanded.

Rehabilitation Measures - Rehabilitation measures can be classified into three distinct groups:

1.     Physical rehabilitation, which includes early detection and intervention, counseling & medical interventions and provision of aids & appliances. It will also include the development of rehabilitation professionals.

2.     Educational rehabilitation including vocational education and

3.     Economic rehabilitation for a dignified life in society.

Women with disabilities - Women with disabilities require protection against exploitation and abuse. Special programmes will be developed for education, employment and providing of other rehabilitation services to women with disabilities keeping in view their special needs. Special educational and vocation training facilities will be setup. Programmes will be undertaken to rehabilitate abandoned disabled women/ girls by encouraging their adoption in families, support to house them and impart them training for gainful employment skills. The Government will encourage the projects where representation of women with disabilities is ensured at least to the extent of twenty five percent of total beneficiaries.

Children with Disabilities - Children with disabilities are the most vulnerable group and need special attention. The Government would strive to:

·        Ensure right to care, protection and security for children with disabilities;

·        Ensure the right to development with dignity and equality creating an enabling environment where children can exercise their rights, enjoy equal opportunities and full participation in accordance with various statutes.

·        Ensure inclusion and effective access to education, health, vocational training along with specialized rehabilitation services to children with disabilities.

·        Ensure the right to development as well as recognition of special needs and of care, and protection of children with severe disabilities.

Barrier-free environment - Barrier-free environment enables people with disabilities to move about safely and freely, and use the facilities within the built environment. The goal of barrier free design is to provide an environment that supports the independent functioning of individuals so that they can participate without assistance, in every day activities. Therefore, to the maximum extent possible, buildings / places / transportation systems for public use will be made barrier free.

Issue of Disability Certificates - The Government of India has notified guidelines for evaluation of the disabilities and procedure for certification. The Government will ensure that the persons with disabilities obtain the disability certificates without any difficulty in the shortest possible time by adoption of simple, transparent and client-friendly procedures.

Social Security - Disabled persons, their families and care givers incur substantial additional expenditure for facilitating activities of daily living, medical care, transportation, assistive devices, etc. Therefore, there is a need to provide them social security by various means. Central Government has been providing tax relief to persons with disabilities and their guardians. The State Governments / U.T. Administrations have been providing unemployment allowance or disability pension. The State Governments will be encouraged to develop a comprehensive social security policy for persons with disabilities.

Promotion of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) - The National Policy recognizes the NGO sector as a very important institutional mechanism to provide affordable services to complement the endeavors of the Government. The NGO sector is a vibrant and growing one. It has played a significant role in the provisions of services for persons with disabilities. Some of the NGOs are also undertaking human resource development and research activities. Government has also been actively involving them in policy formulation, planning, implementation, monitoring and has been seeking their advice on various issues relating to persons with disabilities. Interaction with NGOs will be enhanced on various disability issues regarding planning, policy formulation and implementation. Networking, exchange of information and sharing of good practices amongst NGOs will be encouraged and facilitated. Steps will be taken to encourage and accord preference to NGOs working in the underserved and inaccessible areas. Reputed NGOs shall also be encouraged to take up projects in such areas.

Collection of regular information on Persons with Disabilities - There is a need for regular collection, compilation and analysis of data relating to socio-economic conditions of persons with disabilities. The National Sample Survey Organization has been collecting information on Socio-economic conditions of persons with disabilities on regular basis once in ten years since 1981. The Census has also started collection of information on persons with disabilities from the Census-2001. The National Sample Survey Organization will have to collect the information on persons with disabilities at least once in five years. The differences in the definitions adopted by the two agencies will be reconciled.

Research - For improving the quality of life of persons with disabilities, research will be supported on their socio-economic and cultural context, cause of disabilities, early childhood education methodologies, development of user-friendly aids and appliances and all matters connected with disabilities which will significantly alter the quality of their life and civil society's ability to respond to their concerns. Wherever persons with disabilities are subjected to research interventions, their or their family member or caregiver's consent is mandatory.

Sports, Recreation and Cultural life - The contribution of sports for its therapeutic and community spirit is undeniable. Persons with disabilities have right to access sports, recreation and cultural facilities. The Government will take necessary steps to provide them opportunity for participation in various sports, recreation and cultural activities.

4.5. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE) (2009) along with Amendment

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act or Right to Education Act (RTE), is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted on 4 August 2009, which describes the modalities of the importance of free and compulsory education for children between 6 and 14 in India under Article 21a of the Indian Constitution. India became one of 135 countries to make education a fundamental right of every child when the Act came into force on 1 April 2010.

The major highlights of the RTE Act are:

·        It ensures free & compulsory education to all children within the age group of 6 to 14.

·        No school fees, capitation fees, charges or expenses are to be paid by a child to get elementary education.

·        The child or his parents are not to be subjected to any screening procedure for admission to school

·        Special training provision for a child of above six years not been admitted to any school or, unable to continue studies, to bring him par with his class and to be admitted in an age appropriate class. In such cases, the child can continue beyond 14 years to complete his/her elementary education.

·        If a school does not provide facility to complete elementary education then a child of that school can take a transfer to any other government (govt.) or government-aided school.

·        Each child is also entitled to free text books, writing material and uniform.

·        The appropriate govt. which means central or state government and its affiliates have to provide a school within 1 km walking distance for children in classes I to V and within 3 kms for those in classes VI to VIII. These schools are termed as ‘neighbourhood schools’.

·        The government has the responsibility to undertake school mapping to determine the location of the school.

·        25 percent of the seats in private schools are reserved for RTE students which are funded by the government. The Centre and the State share the joint responsibility to provide funds for RTE execution.

In pursuance of a resolution adopted in the 59th meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) held on 6th June, 2012, a Sub-Committee was constituted for assessment of implementation of Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) in the context of No-Detention provision in the RTE Act, 2009. The Sub-Committee submitted its report in August, 2014. The report of the Sub-Committee was placed before CABE in its meeting held on 19.8.2015, wherein it was decided to request all States/UTs to share their views on the No-Detention policy. 28 States have shared their views on the No Detention policy out of which 23 States have suggested modification to the No Detention policy.

In pursuance of the decision taken in the CABE Committee meeting held on 19.8.2016, another Sub-Committee under the Chairpersonship of Prof. Vasudev Devnani, Minister of Education, Government of Rajasthan was constituted on 26.10.2015 inter-alia, to review the feedback received from States/UTs on the ‘No-Detention’ policy.

The recommendations of the Committee are as under:

·        There should be an examination at Class 5. It should be left to the States and UTs to decide whether this exam will be at the school, block, District or State Level.

·        If a child fails then allow the child an opportunity to improve. There should be additional instruction provided to children and the child should be given an opportunity to sit for another exam. If the child is unable to pass the exam in the second chance, then detain the child.

·        At Classes 6 and 7, there should be a school based exam for students.

·        At Class 8, there should be an external exam. In case the child fails, the child should be given additional instruction and then appear for an improvement exam. If fails again then detain. The matter regarding amendment to Section 16 of the RTE Act, 2009 is under the active consideration of this Ministry.