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«SIMM ® EDUCATION A N D E M P L O Y M E N T OF THE BLIND - THE CASE OF WEST BENGAL Bikas C. Sanyal, P. K. Giri, M. Roychowdhury, A. K. Pati,. ...»

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Bikas C. Sanyal, P. K. Giri,

M. Roychowdhury, A. K. Pati,

. R. K. Mukherji, N. K. De





П Е Р research report



WEST BENGAL Bikas C. Sanyal, P. K. Giri, M. Roychowdhury, A. K. Pati, R. K. Mukherji, N. K. De A study undertaken within the framework of the Research Project on Higher Education and Employment directed by В. С Sanyal



(established by Unesco) 7 = 9, rue Eugène-Delacroix,, 75116 Paris © Unesco 1986 The authors arc responsible for the choice and the presentation of the facts contained in these papers and for the opinions expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of the Institute and do not engage the responsibility of- Unesco.

Research Report No.55 To what extent are the blind aware of the availability and benefits of education? Are there mechanisms to inform them of education and employment opportunities? What are the problems that an educated blind person faces in securing suitable employment? What might discourage the blind from pursuing education? H o w does the society treat the educated and employed blind? Can planning of education contribute in reducing their plight? These are some of the questions that the authors have attempted to answer in this book based on in-depth surveys of the blind population and their employers in a State of India«, (i) PREFACE As 1981 was the International Year of Disabled Persons, the Governing Board of the International Institute for Educational Planning (UNESCO) approved a research study to be conducted on education and employment of the blind in order to derive implications for educational planning for the rehabilitation of this seriously disadvantaged group.

This followed the special emphasis of Unesco's Director-General on education for disabled persons in his speech at the World Conference on Actions and Strategies for Education, Prevention and Integration, held in Malaga, Spain, in 1981, and the "Sundberg Declaration" adopted at that Conference.

The H E P felt it should directits attention to a noteworthy experience on education and employment for the blind in India, which was taking place in the educational complex of Narendrapur in West Bengal.

It decided therefore to launch a study on this unusual attempt to tackle such a delicate problem as the social and economic integration of the blind in contemporary society. It included such a research within the framework of its programme on education, employment and work under its previous Medium-Term Plan (1978-83).

The research involved tracing a selected sample of blind schoolleavers in the State of West Bengal, and interviewing the employers of blind workers. A control group of blind individuals, who had not had any formal education or employment, were also the subject of investigation.

The results of the research are presented in this book.

Tracing the blind school-leavers and gathering the information required for the study proved an arduous task for the local researchers.

Examples of this type of research are few, not only in India but around the world. The H E P is therefore grateful to them and to the members of the Ramakrishna Mission at Narendrapur, whose initiative and dedicated efforts for the welfare of the deprived sections of the society are internationally well known. Without their support this study could not have been completed.

(ü) It is hoped that the results of this research will have a useful impact on the planning of education for the blind. I feel sure that the study will contribute to the knowledge-base on the blind community and help highlight their problems and their prospects.

Financial support for this study has been provided to H E P by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Norwegian Agency for International Development (NORAD), and this is acknowledged with gratitude.

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The authors acknowledge with thanks the intellectual support of the Members of the Advisory Committee set up for the Study consisting of: Swami Lokeswarananda, Swami Asaktananda, Swami Prabhananda, Mr» SoS, Chakrabarty, M r e G e D a w n, M r 0 A* Chankrabarty and M r, T* Chakrabarty«, They are thankful to M r e P 0 K 0 D e and Dr» Sc Mitra for their assistance in the data processing,, They are also grateful to Mr» Shapoor Rassekh, formely H E P consultant for his contribution to the initial design of the project and to Ms* Kay Brownriggj, the H E P project secretary for her assistance in the different stages of the work«,

Chapter 1

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More than 450 million people in the world today are denied the precious gift of full physical or mental faculties, the use of an important limb or a normal function, and do not have access to adequate facilities for treatment, medical and educational rehabilitation, employment, or a normal social life. Most of them, especially in the developing countries, pass their lives in frustration and misery, often without even a ray of hope for the future.(1) They are the disabled, about whom the society is still too often ill-informed about their status

and needs. As Mr. Amadou-Mahtar M'Bow, Director-General of Unesco, states:

"Very often it (the society) even tends to deliberately ignore them, preferring to reject them, to treat them as outcasts, to shut them up in special institutions whose principal purpose is to allow society to forget them - whereas what the handicapped need, on the contrary, is to get out of their ghettos, assert themselves as individuals in their own right, participate fully in social and cultural life, and perhaps even become essential contributors to productive activity."(2) The plight of the disabled continues, along with the tendency towards indifference on the part of the society, despite the efforts of Unesco to redress the situation through the establishment, a long time ago, of a special unit to promote education for the handicapped, and the Declaration on the rights of disabled persons by the United Nations General Assembly in 1975 and adoption of the year 1981 as the International Year for Disabled Persons (IYDP). At the Unesco General Conference in 1980 in Belgrade, it was unanimously decided to hold a conference to identify, study and define the main lines of international action in favour of special education, prevention, re-education and of assistance to the disabled.

The IYDP Conference attempted to review the present situation and examine future prospects for the education of the disabled to (i) make education more suitable for their needs, (ii) provide more effective prevention of disability, and (iii) to rehabilitate disabled persons for integration into society.

(1) H.J.M. Desai. Planning Employment Services for the Blind in Developing Countries, ïvorld Council for the ?7elfare of the Blind, Paris, 1981.

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Rehabilitation has been defined as 'the process of restoration _^_ of the handicapped to the fullest physical, mental, vocational,, economic and social usefulness of which they are capable'.(1) Mr. M'Bow is more precise when he identifies the role that education could play in

this nrocess:

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For education to fulfil the above tasks, educational planning plays an essential role as does research on the problems of the disabled.

The World Conference on Actions and Strategies for Education, Prevention and Integration, organized jointly by Unesco and the Government of Spain in November 1981 in connection with the International Year of Disabled

Persons, resolved that:

"Research aimed at increasing knowledge and its application in furtherance of the aims of this (Sundberg) Declaration, especially for adapting modern technology to the needs of disabled persons and reducing the cost of fabrication of equipment, must be encouraged and the results of such research disseminated widely in order to promote the education, cultural development and employment of disabled persons."(2) Before education could be used as an instrument to redress the situation of the handicapped, it is imperative that the handicapped be identified. This was the objective of the analysis of the present situation of the disabled undertaken by Unesco for the organization of the IYDP Conference. Unfortunately, very little information exists on the disabled. The figure of 450 million quoted at the beginning of this chapter is only an estimate, with all likelihood of it being an underestimate for various reasons. Only those countries which have undertaken population censuses in recent years have an item on the physically handicapped. Even the census returns are to be doubted in terms of accuracy, because of the enumerators' lack of knowledge on the definition of terms for handicap and also because of a certain resentment in disclosing physical handicap, especially in the developing countries for reasons of societal attitudes mentioned above and due to superstitious beliefs that still persist, e.g. that congenital handicap is the result of sins committed in previous lives. Added to this is (1) Unesco, Speech by A.M. M'Bow to the IYDP Conference at Malaga, op.cit.

(2) Sundberg Declaration, Article 13, in Final Report of the IYDP Conference at Malaga, Unesco, Paris, 1982.

- 4the fact that in many developing countries the handicapped live in isolated areas, on unlisted livelihood, namely begging, are scattered and out of easy reach of the census enumerators. Lack of accurate statistics however should not stand in the way of finding means to redress their situation. This is the rationale behind the all out effort to provide equality of opportunities for the handicapped and to ensure their full participation in the life of the community.

That education can play an important role in this respect is clear from the foregoing and particularly from the statement of Mr. M"Bow.

However, planning has to precede the organization of the delivery system and it is here that educational planners have a responsibility and obligation towards the handicapped.

Emphasis on the aspect of integration and rehabilitation of the handicapped was the basis of'the Recommendation of the General Conference of the International Labour Organization, held in 1955, that vocational guidance and training and selective placement be designed to enable the disabled to secure and retain suitable employment.

It is in this context that the International Institute for Educational Planning of Unesco endeavoured to include in its research programme a study on the planning of education for the blind - one of the most important groups in the community of disabled. There is no single established recipe applicable to all handicapped persons everywhere and at all times. This is why the blind have been singled out for a study within the framework of the IIEPEs research programme on education, employment and work. It was felt that such a study, launched during the International Year of Disabled Persons, would not only enrich the knowledge-base on the potential of the blind, the possibilities for their rehabilitation, and the relationship between education and employment of the blind, but would also be a contribution to Unesco's programme on education and integration of disabled persons.

Some interesting experiments of rehabilitating the blind are being conducted in India. It was thought that an evaluation of such experiments, in a State where no such research had yet been undertaken, would allow for unravelling some of the complexities of the relationship between education and employment of the blind. It would also provide information on the programmes of rehabilitation, so far unknown to the

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2. The blind in India and the problem of their rehabilitation In India, the blind suffer from the same difficulties as in many other developing countries; because of misconceptions about the potential productive capacity of the blind and superstitious beliefs, like all other handicapped persons the blind are treated with pity and are rejected. Until Independence, there was not much scope for their rehabilitation, except for a very few cases which will be mentioned later. The Constitution of India proclaims the country as a welfare state, and concern for the deprived has been one of the main goals of the country's development strategy. A number of educational institutions for the blind were set up throughout the country, not only by the government but by a large number of voluntary organizations and philanthropists. It was in India, at its Fourth World Assembly Meeting in 1969, that the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind, in co-operation with the ILO, developed the plans for setting-up an International Documentation Service for the Blind and the Visually Handicapped (BLINDOC), and which was accepted in 1974 by the ILO.

The main objectives of BLINDOC have been dissemination of techniques for vocational guidance, training and employment of the blind, and to collect information on new approaches of integrating the blind into active community life.

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(iii) To initiate in this chain a few practical programmes that would bring immediate and significant benefit to the handicapped themselves.

(iv) To initiate concrete programmes aimed at bringing about the realization in every possible way, the integration of handicapped people into the community.

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