The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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State in hearing disability shock

Calcutta, Nov. 14: There are over twice the number of hearing impaired children in Bengal aged between five and 12 than in any other state, and one-and-a-half times the number in the 0-4 years category.

The school dropout rate between Classes I and VIII for girls in Bengal is 78.3 per cent, against the national average of 60.1. More boys drop out as well — 70.3 per cent compared to 54.4 per cent nationwide.

Disability and dropouts are the low points of the findings presented by the state government, in collaboration with Unicef, in the state’s plan of action for Children 2003 on Children’s Day.

The report examines Bengal’s performance in key areas, including health, education and the incidence of child labour, and creates a framework of measurable parameters that can be used to track progress in child rights.

The report was launched by Biswanath Choudhury, the women, child development and social welfare minister, at a programme today. Sanjay Budhia, the eastern region chairman of the Confederation of Indian Industry, Prabir Gupta, the secretary of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Carrie Auer, Unicef’s state head, were present at the function.

Though Bengal compares favourably with the national average in most other areas, it lags behind significantly in some others.

The hearing impairment figure stands at an “alarming” 3,474 per 100,000 for those aged 5-12. Himachal Pradesh has the second highest figure, at 1,712.

In the 0-4 years segment, the number stands at 1,128, with Karnataka a distant second at 666.

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