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Bombay HC questions lack of centres to test learning disability

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On Monday, the Bombay High Court passed an order saying that tests for learning disability in children should be done earliest by the age of 8. The Court also asked the State why there were only 4 testing centres for testing learning disability when there are over one lakh schools in Maharashtra.

Headed by Chief Justice Mohan Shah, the bench, also stated that if not tested on time, children with learning disabilities may take a downward spiral if the disability remains undiagnosed for a long period of time and may even drop out of school.

There are currently only three authorised testing centres in Mumbai and one in Pune, this situation did not sit well with the judges. The judges also asked the education minister to be a party to the suo moto public interest litigation (PIL) filed regarding this issue. The court is seeking answers from the education department as well as the state government by May 6 when the next hearing of the PIL will take place. The PIL is based on a letter by two mental health professionals, Dr Harish Shetty and Dr Sagnaik Meshram, which they sent right after a student was denied a writer for the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) exam. The HC sent notices to the NIOS director in Pune, HRD ministry and others last week. The letter stated that the “rights of those appearing for NIOS exams 2015 would be violated by the director NIOS board, Pune, if deprived writers”, reportsTOI.

For April and October 2014 NIOS secondary and senior secondary examinations, medical authorities certified children and only then were the students provided writers. However, prior to the next exam on April 10 the parents received a letter from the regional director NIOS, Pune, saying that the students would be provided an hour extra but not a writer. This provided no benefits to the students with learning disabilities.

“Students were jeopardized by the director after he suddenly withdrew the facility of a writer a few days before the exams. These children from Mumbai have been given writers in class 10 by the same board earlier after submission of valid certificates,” said Dr Shetty.

The Chief Justice and High Court took the matter seriously and expressed concern on the lack of testing centres. The HC also said that children should be ideally tested by the age of eight for learning disabilities so that both the children and parents can have better access to the right reliefs and training.


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