There is a huge gap in educational facilities for Children with Disabilities in Mumbai, especially in areas like M East Ward. In 2018, Apnalaya began engaging with the Education Department at the ward level (M East Ward) and at the City level to share records of children with disabilities who are eligible for school and unable to receive any form of education due to the dearth of education facilities in the area.
The response from the MCGM at the ward level (Administrative Officer and Dy. Education Officer Zone 5) and the City level (EO, Dy. EO, Inspector Schools for Children with Special Needs), as well as a meeting with the Joint Municipal Commissioner Education, made this distant dream a reality for children in Shivaji Nagar. On 3rd January 2020, a school for children with special needs called, ‘Mumbadevi Shivaji Nagar Municipal Special School’, at Govandi was inaugurated.
The guests present were: Abu Asim Azmi – MLA Mankhurd Shivaji Nagar, Anjali Naik – Chairperson MCGM Education Committee, Jayashree Yadav – Deputy Education Officer Zone 5, Prakash Charathe – Deputy Education Officer, Asha More – Deputy Education Officer-Central, Gargi Mhatre – Education Inspector for Special Schools, Shaira Khan – Municipal Corporator Prabhag 134.
“In 1965, the MCGM started its first school for children with special needs and today the 17th school for children with special needs was inaugurated. Our children will have the same facilities as children in private schools,” said Anjali Naik chairperson MCGM Education committee.
The school is temporarily housed in a classroom on the premises of Shivaji Nagar Municipal School 1 and will slowly expand. Initially from January to March 2020 the school will focus on habituating students to attending class from 11-3.30 pm with one teacher and an Auxiliary staff. The school will start full-fledged operations from June-July.
Apnalaya’s work through the Health and Disability Team, has encountered homes in the slum clusters with cases of children with disabilities. Apnalaya has also reached out to PWD through support & referral services to enable their education.
There are 33 children of school going age in the current academic year unable to access education due to inability to pay fees in private facilities, cost of transportation and loss of daily wages of parents who spend time to escort the child to and from school. Apnalaya is taking an active role in community mobilisation to influence parents that their children with Special Needs will live a life of dignity!