The Centre on Thursday told the Supreme Court that it has accepted the norms and standards of pupil-teacher ratio for special schools and also separate norms for special educators, who alone can impart education and training to children with special needs in general schools, as recommended by the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI).
In a compliance affidavit filed in the apex court, the Ministry of Education has referred to the norms and standards as per which the recommended pupil-teacher (special education teacher) ratio for regular (inclusive) school is 10:1 for the primary level and 15:1 for the upper primary, secondary and higher secondary level.
It said the department of school education and literacy, Ministry of Education, had issued a letter on June 10 to the education secretaries of all the states and Union Territories (UTs), the commissioners of 'Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan' and 'Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti' wherein the norms and standards of pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) have been circulated with a request to take further necessary action.
"Since this department has finalised the norms and standards i.e PTR for special teachers/special educators who alone can impart education and training to CwSN (children with special needs) in the general schools, it is humbly submitted that this department is in the process of issuing notification by amending the 'schedule' of the RTE Act, 2009, in compliance of para 34 of the judgement dated October 28, 2021, passed by this court. It is further submitted that this process is likely to take 4 to 6 weeks," the affidavit said.
The top court had in its October 28 last year judgement said that the Centre must forthwith notify the standards of pupil-teacher ratio for special schools as also separate norms for special teachers who alone can impart education and training to Child with Special Needs (CwSN) in general schools across the country.
The matter came up for hearing on Thursday before a bench comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar, A S Oka, and J B Pardiwala.
Advocate Shoeb Alam, appearing for the petitioners, referred to the compliance affidavit filed by the ministry.
He said the affidavit indicates that a letter has been issued by the ministry to all the states.
Alam said as per the affidavit, the RCI has made certain suggestions to the Centre and the government has accepted them.
The bench noted in its order that its attention has been invited to the June 10 communication informing all the states and UTs about the acceptance of the recommendation made by the RCI and to give effect to it to adhere to the directions given by the apex court in October last year.
The bench, while posting the matter for further hearing on August 17, said the concerned states and UTs shall submit the compliance report to the Secretary of the ministry.
The affidavit filed in the court said that in compliance with the directions passed by the apex court, the department of school education and literacy, Ministry of Education, had constituted a committee to "notify the norms and standards of pupil-teacher ratio" norms for special teachers/special educators who alone can impart education and training to CwSN in general schools.
It said during the committee meetings, the department of empowerment of persons with disabilities/RCI was assigned the task to draft the norms and standards of pupil-teacher ratio.
The affidavit said the committee, as formed by RCI to formulate the norms of special educators in special schools, was also requested to formulate the norms, guidelines, standards on ratio, roles, responsibilities, etc of special teachers/special educators in general schools in view of the apex court directions. It said the draft norms were submitted to the ministry by the RCI.
The affidavit said the department of school education and literacy, Ministry of Education, issued a letter dated June 10 to the education secretaries of all the states and UTs, the commissioners of 'Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan' and 'Jawahar Navoday Vidyalaya Samiti', wherein the norms and standards of PTR for special schools and also separate norms for special teachers/special educators who alone can impart education and training to CwSN in general schools, as recommended by RCI, have been circulated with the request to take further necessary action in the light of the apex court judgement.
It said the letter also asked them to furnish an action taken report to the department.
The June 10 communication said the RCI has also recommended and redefined the role of special teachers, while being a catalyst to empower children with disabilities, they will undertake certain responsibilities for facilitating inclusive education.
It included providing tips for making an inclusive school climate, culture, and ethos where all systems from admission to assessments, teaching, and evaluation are disabled-friendly.
The letter also referred to the outreach activities for special teachers which include, undertaking home visits and support home training programs.
It also gave details about the suggested activities for special teachers, which included developing an annual/monthly calendar of activities for inclusion.
"State governments and UT administrations may take further necessary action in the light of judgement dated October 28, 2021, of the Supreme Court and furnish the action taken report to this department by June 25, 2022, to enable this department to submit compliance affidavit before the Supreme Court of India," the communication said.