A new scheme drafted by the human resource development ministry has for the first time placed the onus of ensuring a dignified environment for education on institutions rather than on students, top officials said.
Although Indian law and the education policy forbids institutions from discriminating against disabled children, a student once admitted is responsible for 'fitting' into the existing school environment.
The Centre now plans to replace the Integrated Education for Disabled Children programme, launched in 1974, with the Inclusive Education for Disabled Children at the Secondary Stage scheme.
As the name suggests, the new scheme will target only secondary education, unlike the existing one that covers all school education. A similar scheme for primary education is in the pipeline.
The government keeps no record of the number of disabled students in schools but activists say the number of children of school-going age who suffer from disabilities may be more than 20 million.
The new scheme envisages a change in curriculum to include course content aimed at sensitising students to the needs of the disabled.