Off to College in India: Waiting for Students to Find Their Own Voices

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International educational tourism is a booming niche in the travel industry. For some students moving way from home to go off to college can be a challenging adventure. As India works to implement inclusion at the university level a new national discussion is taking place. To foreign ears it is discordantly patronizing (i.e. "these special children") but worth monitoring because policy and practice developed on campuses will eventually have on broader infrastructure and the travel & hospitality industry.

A number of disability quota seats are going empty in DU? Why?

This year too, Delhi University (DU) has not seen many applications for UG courses in the disability category. The officials are worried about the dwindling number of applications. And so, the colleges have now trying their bit to attract these students back to their colleges.

From constructing ramps, providing special softwares to assigning them key roles in the college in an effort to integrate them to the larger student community, the colleges are making sure that these special children see the college as their 'second home'. "On an average, DU receives around 325–350 applications each year for disability category. Although the total number of seats sanctioned for disabled candidates is well over a thousand, we have received about 330 applications this year," says SK Vij, dean, student's welfare.

From constructing ramps, providing special softwares to assigning them key roles in the college in an effort to integrate them to the larger student community, the colleges are making sure that these special children see the college as their 'second home'. "On an average, DU receives around 325–350 applications each year for disability category. Although the total number of seats sanctioned for disabled candidates is well over a thousand, we have received about 330 applications this year," says SK Vij, dean, student's welfare.

College authorities are forced to leave most of the seats vacant due to the non–availability of suitable candidates. They hope that a few 'positive' steps to identify and solve the various problems of these students will help in reversing the trend in the coming years. Claims Kanika Khandelwal, media coordinator, LSR, "Our college has one of the largest number of disabled students in DU. All our seats that are reserved for disability category get filled up every year." She said that it was the college's policy to encourage these students. "We have constructed a new ramp for the students in the administrative block along with the existing ramp near in the academic building. We have also provided them with softwares like JAWS and SAFA. The students are given writers who are handpicked from NSS volunteers. These volunteers also help them in their studies in the college hostel," she adds.

LSR has also set examples of its inclusive policy by assigning major duties to these students. "We have stood by them and encouraged them. Three years ago, a visually impaired girl, Jyoti Magu, was popularly elected as the sports president of the college," elaborates Khandelwal.

SR Arora, principal, Hans Raj College says, "We generally manage to fill up all the disability quota seats." He says that his college takes special care of these students. "We have already installed four ramps in our college. We have provided Braille books and special softwares for the visually challenged students. In addition, apart from the NSS volunteers, we have a Blind Students' Club especially formed by Hans Raj College students to look after them. Our teachers can be personally approached, and wherever possible, we send step in to solve their problems."

According to Pratibha Jolly, principal, Miranda House, the resource centre of the college has been made disabled friendly. "Along with ramps, we have made sure that the special needs of these students are met in our state of the art resource centre," says she.

Source (via Disability News India):
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Cities/City_Supplements/Delhi_Times

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