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Grace for special students

Krishna Datta was shattered when her husband told her, four years ago, that their son, Biswarup, would never be able to move unaided after doctors of a reputed Delhi hospital operated wrongly on his spine. This meant he would require much longer than the usual four hours every student gets to answer his Honours papers. She pleaded her son’s case with Calcutta University (CU), only to be told that “rules were rules” and Biswarup could not be given any extra time to write his exams.

Now, finally, there could be some good news in store for physically challenged or handicapped students of CU. The undergraduate council of the varsity on Thursday agreed to send a proposal giving handicapped students extra time or concessions (according to their specific requirements), to the Syndicate.

“Most varsities abroad offer various facilities to handicapped students so that they can overcome their specific physical problems and compete with other students. It’s high time we thought along such lines,” said CU pro vice-chancellor (academic) Suranjan Das.

He was confident that the rules could be introduced by the next academic session if things went according to plan.

Every year, a number of physically-challenged students can be found at several examination centres struggling to keep pace with their fellow students and having to submit their answer-scripts along with the rest, confirm officials.

“The only concession that the university makes now is for a blind student,” a senior varsity official said, adding that there was a rule to give a blind candidate an extra 45 minutes for every paper.

“All members of the under-graduate council agreed in principle to the proposal we placed before them,” Das said. He added that the proposed concessions for physically challenged students included giving them some extra time to complete their papers and providing them special infrastructure to help make up for their specific impediments.

This would ensure that the likes of Alka Saraogi would not have to do the rounds of varsity offices pleading their wards’ case. Alka, mother of a cerebral palsy-afflicted student, had spent days trying to convince university authorities that her son needed a typewriter to appear for his exams. Her pleas fell on deaf ears till a Left Front minister intervened and managed to get her son a typewriter.

Varsity officials added on Thursday that the Syndicate would go into the details of the proposals before implementing them. “For example, the Syndicate will have to decide who is going to place the application for the extra concessions (the individual student or his/her college) and what documents are required to prove each student’s unique case,” said a member of the undergraduate council.

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