Demand to reopen special school hostels in Kerala

‘Most students stay far away from schools and they find commuting tough’

The Society for Rehabilitation of Differently Abled (SRDA) has requested the State Government to take steps immediately to open hostels attached to special schools. Chairman of the Society Shahul Madavoor said that most special students stayed far away from their schools and in the present circumstances were finding it difficult to commute. “When the schools reopened on November 1, many special students could not go to school,” he said, adding that public transportation was not often reliable for the children. On the other hand, regulations on accommodating students made commuting in private vehicles unaffordable for most families of special children, he added.

He asked the government to ensure that the hostels are open following COVID protocol for other reasons too. “There are 43 special schools in the State. As many districts do not have enough schools locally, children are often put up in school hostels. Only the children staying in hostels are qualified for the boarding grant,” Mr. Madavoor said.

Besides, these children are not included in the mid-day meal scheme and in the present condition, they do not even get help for mid-day meal after the classes that end by noon. So the government needs to make arrangements for providing mid-day meals to special children, he said.

When the schools were closed as part of the lockdown, all other students received food kits in place of their mid-day meals. But visually and hearing impaired children were excluded. Later, the government passed an order to provide them kits, but it was not properly implemented.

Meanwhile, the State has banned the entry of parents into the school compounds, which is not practical in the case of special schools. This is another reason why the hostels need to be reopened, to ensure that special children too get the opportunity to continue their education, he said.

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