Rashmi Rekha Das

Children with special needs or divyang students across the state are facing a huge risk of dropping out of school in the absence of special educators.  As a result, the government-run schools have seen a decline in a number of such children due to the lack of special teachers in educational institutes.  

Last year, the Supreme Court had directed all the state governments including Odisha to fill up the vacancy of special teachers in schools for children with special needs within six months. However, the Odisha government is allegedly yet to appoint a single special educator to help divyang students.

According to the data provided by UDISE PLUS, as many as 1,03,058 divyang students had taken admission in 2020-21 academic session out of which 45,018 students had taken admission from Class I to Class V. However, only 37,371 students had taken admission between Class VI and Class VIII. When it comes to Class 9 and Class 10, the number of students came down to 20,335. Again the number of students came down to 371 in Plus 2.

The shortage of special teachers is stated to be the reason behind the sharp decline of divyang students in government schools.

At a time when more than 6,000 special educator aspirants are looking for jobs after getting special educator training, the state government’s failure to hire them and implement SC’s order has invited flak.

On the other hand, departmental minister is of the opinion that initiatives are being started for the recruitment of such teachers. 

Sikan Kumar Samantray, a job aspirant, said, “Following the Supreme Court’s order, other states have started initiating recruitment process for special educators. However, the Odisha government is yet to wake up from its slumber and do the needful.”

Supriya Pradhan who had done a special educator course said, “Many youths like me have done special educator course to secure a job but in vain. Moreover, the future of divyang children in the absence of special educators is at stake."

Special educator Sabita Pradhan said, “Normal students receive things faster than divyang children. In order make divyang students memorise things we have to repeat things several times. Special educators can only understand the problems being faced by such children.”

 Meanwhile, the State School & Mass Education Minister Samir Ranjan Dash said, “We are reviewing the Supreme Court’s order. And, the department will soon take an appropriate decision.”