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Updated On - June 24th 2019

Children with learning disabilities miss out on education as the problem goes undetected mainly due to lack of awareness

Every child is unique and different in their own way, however instead of celebrating their differences, due to stigma and ignorance regarding disabilities, children with learning disabilities feel isolated and often struggle in the school.

Very few mainstream schools in India, have the facilities to teach students with special needs. Teachers do not get training to handle students with common learning disabilities such as Dyslexia (difficulty in reading), dysgraphia (difficulty in writing) dyscalculia (difficulty in math) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), while schools do not have appropriate facilities to conduct a learning disability test. Sonya Philip, founder of Learning Matters Foundation, feels that the society and the schools are not doing enough for the students. Being in the education sector for around 40 years, she has seen the changing attitude of the parents and teachers, but more support is needed, she says.

"There are so many children who despite being capable and bright, struggle at school because their learning style is not understood. Schools need trained and well-informed staff to map the abilities of each student," Sonya says.

According to studies in Neuroscience, 20% learning disability is prevalent in most population, irrespective of nationality or social status. Most teachers are not taught how to deal with diverse minds, they need to be more informed and have a deeper understanding of differently abled children, she says.

"Let us accept the fact that most schools are factories that often fail to create a child-centric approach," says Sonya.

Schools and parents need to understand that education is not just mugging a curriculum up, it is more holistic as it focusses on children building their character and developing their skills.

Mahima Tyagi, a student identified with ADHD at the age of 10, never allowed this to be an impediment as she continued her studies at a prominent school in Delhi. She battled the snide remarks from her teachers, who were ignorant of her disability. "I was labelled 'phoney' by my teachers when I mentioned ADHD. They thought I was using it as an excuse for my falling grades."

Shayama Chona, founder-president of Tamana Association and the former Principal of Delhi Public School, RK Puram, recommends a change in policies for special students. "Even though the policies such as Right To Education are in place, the implementation is poor," she says. While there is an effort, government schools need to be more equipped with dealing with diverse minds, she says.

"The society must realise that children with learning disabilities don't need to be isolated. In fact, they need to be seen and believed in," adds Chona.

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