An extra hand really helps

When schools allow NGOs and volunteers to help children with special needs and teachers handle the curriculum, learning outcomes improve significantly

The order issued in September 2019 allows for participation of non-governmental organisations or volunteers in government schools to improve the learning outcomes of children, with the consent of the school head.

“Such interventions may include remedial teaching, deputing volunteers, counselling, organising sport activities and conducting health check-ups,” reads the note. It also states that the school heads should keep the chief educational officers informed about such interventions, so that the genuineness of the work done by the NGO/volunteer can be verified.

Mano Ranjani, parent of a 11-year-old who is on the spectrum, moved her son from a private to a government school as she wanted him to experience inclusion in the real sense of the term. Until the time schools closed due to the pandemic, she had two volunteers to assist her son in the classroom

“I engaged the services of a physical trainer and a special educator. I told them not to focus only on my son but also the others in the classroom who need extra care and attention,” she says.

Ranjani says she found her son happier in the atmosphere created at the Corporation-run school in Nungambakkam. “There was no pressure to excel in academics,” she says.

The only drawback she found was the school did not have enough special educators.

This academic year, Varsha (name changed) shifted to a Chennai Corporation school. The parents of the child have asked the school if they could engage a volunteer once physical classes begin.

“The school wanted us to first experience the environment, and I was happy about that, because that made it clear that they were really trying to include children with behavioural issues,” says the parent.

She says her daughter learnt a lot from the private school, especially the environment created for sports but she did not think inclusion was happening in the real sense of the term. “She was a back-bencher that limited her opportunities to socialise with other students and the teachers,” says the parent, adding that a lot depends on the teacher.

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