Online education has had its fair share of challenges for teachers and students over the past year. However, for special students who have hearing, vision and learning disabilities, these challenges have been manifold.
Teachers struggled to clarify concepts for special students through virtual media.
Maharashtra has 8,196 special students appearing for the secondary school certificate (SSC) and 6,087 special students appearing for the upper secondary certificate (HSC) scheduled from the end of April.
Pune Division alone has registered 859 HSC students and 1,074 SSC students according to the State Council.
Athang Bhandare, a visually impaired student in Class 12 Arts, said that since the entire school year is online, the exams should be too.
“An online exam would be preferable. Even though I am in Pune, I live far from my college; going there in itself is a challenge. There is a transport problem and the fear of Covid-19. My parents are also afraid of how I will give the paper. I also think the document should be in line with multiple choice questions (MCQs), ”Bhandare said.
He added that it is important to have a writer in both offline and online mode.
“Not all software supports the answer. There is therefore a need for a writer. In my case, my sister writes for me but for my other friends who live in Latur and Hingoli, they have to find a writer who is in Pune. They couldn’t find writers, ”Bhandare said.
Meera Badve, director of Nivant Andh Mukta Vikasayala, said students have struggled a lot to master difficult concepts this year.
“It is difficult to teach various concepts to special children. For example, special visually impaired students, how to explain the concept of planes in mathematics or finance in commerce? All of this we have done in offline courses until now, and over the past year these students had no option to learn everything online. There were challenges, and now the program is almost over, but the child has less time to revise, ”said Badve.
She added that final exams should be taken online to make it easier for students.
“There should be question banks and students should be given multiple choice questions to make the job easier. Many students with special needs live in rural areas. If the exams are offline, how are these students going to come to town to take the exam? Badve asked.
She added that since hostels are closed and the hostel mess is also closed, where will students stay to take the exam offline?
“There is also the question of writers. How can schools and colleges organize writers during the pandemic? »Said Badvé.
Medha Kulkarni, administrator of the NGO Make My Dream Foundation, which works with hearing-impaired students, said students with hearing problems suffered more.
“These students, unlike visually impaired students, cannot listen and learn. The teachers struggled to reach them. Many parents are still not sure whether the students understood the concepts or not. In such a scenario, how can the offline exam help these students, ”Kulkarni said.
Prakash Mali, a class 10 student who has a visual impairment, said he is preparing his best for the upcoming exam.
“Online learning has its own challenges and it took us a few weeks to get used to it. Now that the reviews are out there, online or offline, we’re going to need writers. Some software does not support screen readers. So in this case, we’re going to need a writer to help us out. The pandemic is a difficult situation, let’s see how things go for offline exams, ”Mali said.