Newly Proposed ‘Self-sustaining’ Incapacity Research College Would Deprive Marginalised College students: NPRD

The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled has issued a statement criticizing the proposal by the Ministry for the Empowerment of People with Disabilities to create a separate university for disability studies and rehabilitation science. The government gave stakeholders only nine days to respond to the 131-page draft proposal, a mere feast for the eyes of a procedure called for by the NPRD.

According to the Dec. 26 statement, the NPRD stated that the University’s 2021 Bill on Disability Studies and Rehabilitation Sciences seeks to break the distinction between Disability Studies and Rehabilitation Sciences as the university aims to “train and develop professionals”. Researchers and Educators in Disability Studies and Rehabilitation Sciences ”.

Not only that, the latest proposal comes at a time when discussions of proposed amendments to the Law of the Rehabilitation Council of India have not even taken place, the NPRD claimed. This, according to the Disability Rights Forum, is an example of the government “abusing” the pandemic situation to “rush through another ill-conceived idea that denies stakeholders sufficient time or space to respond”.

The statement elaborated on the differences between disability studies and rehabilitation sciences: “Disability studies are an academic discipline that examines the meaning, nature and consequences of disabilities, as opposed to rehabilitation, which aims to enable disabled people to achieve and their optimal maintain physical, sensory, intellectual, psychological and social functional levels that lead to their independence. “

In the absence of adequate rehabilitation professionals and improved skills and facilities, the reason for this proposal for a separate university to bridge this gap remains “unresolved”. In addition, there is already a Rehabilitation Council of India with the main task of regulating and overseeing the training of rehabilitation professionals, which raises serious concerns about the proposal for a separate university.

Also read: Over 200 disability rights organizations, activists issue statement against the watering down of the RPD law

Also Sec. 47 of the Disability Rights Act requires the government to promote “teaching and research in disability studies, including the establishment of study centers for such studies” in all universities, the NPRD said. The RPD Act also talks about the introduction of “disability as a component of all educational courses for schools, colleges, university teachers, doctors, nurses ………” etc.

As part of it, several universities in the country, including IGNOU, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kerala; NALSAR, Hyderabad; Ambedkar University, Delhi; Gauhati University, Assam; to name a few, have already established centers and programs for disability studies. There is also the Dr. Shakuntala Misra Rehabilitation University in Lucknow with the declared aim of facilitating and promoting “study, research and expansion work in the emerging areas including rehabilitation courses …” according to the NPRD.

In these circumstances, the new proposal for a separate and self-sustaining university in line with the new 2020 Education Policy is totally unacceptable to the NPRD. Such self-sufficient universities, whose finances are generated from tuition fees, membership fees, etc., will further deprive students of the marginalized sections, the statement said.

The statement also highlighted that the government had previously refused permission to turn the National Institute of Language and Hearing, Thiruvananthapuram, into a National University of Rehabilitation Science and Disability Studies, despite the announcement made by the 2015-16 Union budget. Rather, the government’s recent proposal to develop self-sufficient separate learning centers is part of their attempt to encourage privatization and has been labeled a “waste of money” by the NPRD.

Instead, the NPRD Declaration has called for the government to adhere to the guiding principles of the RPD Law on Equality and Non-Discrimination and to adopt and promote an inclusive, multidisciplinary approach.

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