Special needs schools

India’s most admired Special Needs Schools

Against the depressing backdrop of a mere 0.89 percent of India’s 1.4 million primary-secondaries providing education to children with special needs, the Delhi-based Tamana School of Hope is ranked India’s #1 special needs school for the third consecutive year

Though an estimated 2 percent of India’s 480 million children aged below 18 years suffer from physical disabilities, mental retardation and learning disabilities, a mere 0.89 percent (12,460) of India’s 1.4 million primary-secondaries provide education to children with special needs (CWSN), according to Elementary Education in India 2014-15, published by the Delhi-based National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA). 

Given this depressing backdrop, this year’s national league table ranking the country’s most admired special needs schools — introduced in 2015 with the objective of enabling parents of children with special needs to make informed choices as also to acknowledge the nation’s pioneer special needs schools — is encouraging in that the number of sufficiently well-known ranked schools has risen from 16 in 2015 to 22 in 2017.   

To compile the third EW Special Needs Schools Rankings 2017-18, C fore field researchers interviewed 514 knowledgeable respondents including parents and special needs educators. The schools were rated on ten parameters — teacher welfare and development, competence of faculty, quality of programme, rehabilitation, co-curricular education, individual attention to students, leadership/management quality, safety and hygiene, infrastructure provision and value for money. 

The #1 position in the EW Special Needs Schools Rankings 2017-18 is retained for the third consecutive year by Tamana Autism Centre — School of Hope, Delhi (estb.1992), which is also top ranked on four parameters (competence of faculty, quality of programme, leadership/management quality, infrastructure provision). The second and third rankings are awarded to the Delhi-based Amar Jyoti, Delhi (estb.1981) and Asha Kiran Special Needs School, Bangalore (estb.1993) also for the third consecutive year. Moving up a notch since last year (4) and tied at #3 this year is The Aditya Birla Integrated School, Mumbai. The Top 5 table in this category is completed by the S.P.J. Sadhana School, Mumbai #4 (5) followed by Sparsh Special School, Delhi #5 (6) tied with the hitherto unranked Muskaan, Delhi. 

Comments Dr. Shayama Chona, former principal of Delhi Public School, R.K. Puram (Delhi) where she served for 35 years (1978-2009) and founder-president of Tamana: “It is a great privilege to be ranked #1 for the third consecutive year. I consider this an award for our hard working children who constantly motivate and inspire us. Since inception, Tamana has strived to bring cutting-edge technology into educating special children. Our well-equipped research and development wing, which relentlessly works towards developing ‘miracle tools’ has not only earned recognition but changed the lives of thousands of special needs children. We are grateful to our research partners — IBM Research, Microsoft, Deakin University, Australia, University of Tampere, IIT-Delhi, NIOS Research, ministry of social justice among others — for their sustained support. Our prime objective is to prepare special needs children for mainstream education. I hope through our efforts, we will continue to inspire individuals and organisations to promote similar institutions.”

Further down the 22-strong national league table of India’s most respected special needs schools, there’s been minor rearrangement of seats. The Mata Bhagwanti Chadha Niketan, Noida (MBCN, estb.1999), Aatman Academy, Mumbai, Vidyaniketan Academy — Centre for Learning Challenges, Bangalore and Dare School, Munnar have debuted in the Top 10 league table at #6, #8, #9 and #10 respectively with the Academy for Severe Handicaps and Autism, Bangalore retaining its #7 spot.

Dr. Vandana Sharma, a postgraduate in applied psychology of Annamalai University with a doctorate from Dr. Bheemrao Ambedkar University, Agra, and founder-principal and director of MBCN, Noida, which offers free-of-charge education and vocational training to 1,000 students, is gratified by the school’s Top 10 national ranking. “This award is very encouraging for our highly-qualified team of special educators, psychologists and therapists. It will motivate us to improve and deliver the best pedagogies and development programmes leveraged by the latest technology to special children. We also work towards empowering rehabilitation professionals, care givers and parents by conducting workshops and counselling sessions. So far, our students have been successfully placed in Tata Westside, Lemon Tree Hotels, Wave Infract, DS Group, and Genesis Global School,” says Sharma.

Founded 18 years ago by the Ponty Chadha Foundation Trust (formerly known as Mata Bhagwanti Chadha Niketan Trust), MBCN is a charitable school for children with intellectual and physical challenges, autism, speech and hearing impairment among other disabilities. 

Likewise, Manjushree Patil, a special needs education postgraduate of Pune and SNDT universities, a Cherie Blair Foundation Mentee and US State Department Fellowship alumna, and founder-director of Aatman Academy, Mumbai (estb.2011), which offers education to 69 challenged class V-X children, is deeply touched by the school’s Top 10 national ranking. “I am extremely grateful to EducationWorld for bestowing this honour and strengthening our conviction to continue making a difference. Ours has been a more than satisfying seven-year journey as we believe Aatman delivers unique pedagogies and programmes that bring out the best in special children. I am also thankful to your survey respondents who have acknowledged our efforts to provide rehabilitative education to special children,” says Patil, a former principal of Cambridge International School, Thane with 26 years experience in K-12 education.  

Paromita Sengupta

To view Special Needs Schools Rankings 2017, please visit: http://www.educationworld.in/rank-school/all-cities/special-needs-school/2017.html