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- Thursday, January 26, 2012 - From Print Edition

In our country, about 30 percent of school-going children suffer from learning disabilities, and the problem seems to be on the rise. There is an urgent need to invest in the education and training of slow-learners. The term slow-learner is generally used to describe the student who has the ability to learn necessary academic skills, but at a rate, and depth, which is below average. In order to grasp new concepts, the slow-learner needs more time, more repetition, and often more input from the teacher to be successful. Their reasoning skills are particularly delayed, which makes it difficult for them to understand new concepts. A non-responsive behaviour of the government is pushing more and more such students out of the mainstream school system. A large number of students with learning disabilities lose interest in education as they cannot cope with the education system and grasp the lengthy syllabus.

The Punjab government has spent too little so far to deal with this problem despite the fact that the chief minister of Punjab has always been very responsive to the public miseries. However, he has failed to meet the expectations of slow-learners. It could be judged from the fact that the Punjab government has recently spent billions of rupees on distribution of free laptops among students, but not a single penny has been extended out of his huge fund to slow-learners. There is no doubt that the policy of merit was followed in the process of laptop-distribution and only deserving students benefited from the scheme. But, it is also a fact that a major reason behind the high drop-out rate in Punjab is the fact that there is no facility of remedial education in mainstream schools, both public and private.

The government should provide support to private-sector education institutions dealing with slow-learners. The Foundation for Rehabilitation and Education of Slow Children is one such organisation working for education of slow-learners and it also trains teachers in remedial education. With the meagre resources available to it, it is not easy for the Foundation to handle the heavy influx of slow-learners. It doesn’t even have a permanent campus and it keeps shifting from one place to another due to financial constraints. Financial help to this organisation can secure the future of many students with learning disabilities.

Ashba Kamran

General Secretary

Foundation for Rehabilitation and Education of Slow Children