After the Maharashtra government expressed its inability to fund and telecast educational videos in sign language for children with special needs, maintaining that it required assistance from the Union government under the Samagra Shiksha Scheme, the Bombay High Court recently directed the Centre to inform it about the existing policies for such learning methods.
Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Sharmila U Deshmukh were on September 5 hearing two public interest litigations (PIL) filed by NGO Anamprem and Dr Kalyani N Mandke, seeking relief for specially-abled school and college students by implementing provisions of the Right to Persons with Disability Act, 2016.
The PILs also sought direction to the authorities to come up with new learning methods for special children through the electronic medium. They further sought that a structured recovery programme be formulated for the next three years for both regular and special children who suffered during the pandemic and to collectively decide guidelines for teachers to fill the learning gap. On February 1, the state had made a budgetary announcement for expansion of 12 DTH TV channels.
An affidavit filed by it on February 11 referred to financial difficulties, as expenses for broadcasting on Doordarshan were approximately Rs 4 crore. The affidavit added that no funding was available for this and it would seek funds from the Centre. Otherwise, funding will be sought from NGOs or through Corporate Social Responsibility funds, the state had said.
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According to the Central Institute of Educational Technology (CIET), till July 4, it had recorded 3,405 sign language videos, of which 596 were related to textbooks for classes I to VI. These are available on the DIKSHA portal and the mobile application launched on September 23, 2021. These are also being telecast through PM eVIDYA DTH channels.
Following this, the HC sought a comprehensive affidavit from the Centre about budgetary allocation for preparing educational videos for children with special needs. It will hear the matter next on October 3.