Sunday, 1 November, 2020

Listen To Deaf Students

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only disrupted normal way of living and doing things but also exposed diverse societal fault-lines. It strained the state’s capacity to cope with the health emergency. It has badly disrupted economic and education sectors. The government has lifted lockdown and prohibitory orders to resuscitate the ailing economy but it has not allowed the full-fledged operation of schools and universities owing to the increasing virus threat. However, it has introduced the alternative mode of teaching-learning that is the distance learning conducted through the means of textbooks, radio, television and internet. The recognition of alternative method of education has led to the spurt in the virtual classes, which have gained popularity with the students, thanks to the ubiquitous internet services.
However, all is not well with the online learning. It is true that the internet coverage has been expanded across the country over the years but it is not easily accessible to all. Those living in the rural places have difficulty in attending the online classes owing to various factors such as difficult geography, absence of electricity and internet services and timing, among others. These are the glitches facing the normal students. It is still worse for the students with disabilities. The hearing-impaired students have faced hard time in keeping with the track of learning in the absence of sign-language teachers and necessary devices. A news report, carried by this daily, states that the pandemic has compounded the woes of the deaf students because they were reeling from multiple problems even before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report mentions that there are only 22 designated educational institutions for the hard of hearing students and only three of them provide education up to Grade 12. They can pursue Bachelor’s Degree – only in Education – at the Central Secondary School for the Deaf at Naxal in Kathmandu. Likewise, there are 174 government-run resource classes for them but no private schools/colleges offer education to them. As all of these institutions are now shut in the wake of virus outbreak, academic future of the deaf students is thrown into limbo. They are now much worried as their schools failed to operate zoom classes in the last six months. They are not even mulling to do so now despite the fact that the virtual classes are becoming a norm in the education sector.
The government has issued ‘Rules Relating to Rights of Persons with Disabilities-2020’ to facilitate the disabled students but it does not have provision to conduct the online classes for them. This sort of discrimination undermines the spirit of constitution that has ensured the citizen’s rights to education irrespective of their gender, caste, ethnicity, race, disability and economic status. It has envisioned an inclusive education so that no children are deprived of their right to education. Inequality facing the deaf students indicates that they are not recognised as the respected members of the academic community. However, such a disparity goes against the principle of egalitarian and civilised state that stands for all its citizens. Now it is imperative for the educational institutions to be sensitised about the needs of disabled students who must have easy access to appropriate education materials, curriculum and human resources.  

How do you feel after reading this news?