The Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has raised concerns regarding the lack of counsellors in special schools.
Addressing the director of education, Government of Goa, Peter F Borges, the chairperson of the Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, has said, “There exist several special schools for children with disabilities in the state of Goa, however, as per the information provided by the Goa Education Development Corporation which implements the counselling scheme for students, none of the special schools have counsellor appointed.”
In support of students with special needs, the school counsellor plays an important role of advocacy to help them achieve and succeed at a level comparable to other students.
They play an important role to raise awareness among teachers and staff so they understand students' disabilities and can better educate them. The counsellor can also participate in the identification of students with special needs in collaboration with teachers.
Caring for a special child is a doubly difficult situation, involving physical, financial and emotional stress. The stigma associated with disabilities also increases the family’s sense of isolation.
Hence, a counsellor’s service in a school setting can address the chronic strain of parents as childcare can cause relatively enduring problems in their day-to-day lives.
“Given that children with different disabilities also face a high risk of sexual violence and abuse, having a counsellor is extremely necessary. Those with physical disabilities may find it more difficult to escape from violent abuse situations due to limited mobility,” said Peter F Borges.
The visually or hearing impaired may not be able to call for help or easily communicate abuse or may be more vulnerable to attacks simply due to the lack of the ability to hear what is going on in their surroundings.
With evolving needs and NEP 2020, inclusivity and psychological services need to be given attention and seen as a right to protection of children with disabilities in schools.
Hence, it is recommended that special schools be brought under the scheme, and counsellors be appointed for children with disabilities and provided with appropriate training.
The filing of an action taken report before the Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has been requested by January 30, 2023.