Vocational Education for the Differently Abled

Vocational Rehabilitation Centres pave the way for education to empower disabled in rural areas; programmes to give skill and enhance work opportunities

Physical roadblocks and lack of accessibility often prevent persons with disabilities from pursuing higher education especially in country like ours. Lack of trust in their abilities and social prejudices lead to low confidence and low self esteem while they think of themselves as being “surplus citizens” who are not capable of contributing to society.

It is easy for them to overcome this inferiority if a little attention is paid towards training them in some specific kind of skill which can tap their latent talents and bring them to the surface level. This calls for the need to implement vocational training programmes. Such programmes should have a solid basis and be properly executed.

Vocational education is useful learners with psychological or emotional problems, impairments of sight, hearing and speech, people with learning disability,  For those with moderate to severe disabilities vocational learning can help them to live independently and earn their livelihood.

Such education and training is imparted in Vocational Rehabilitation Centres (VRC). A VRC is an informal institution which helps in assessing the abilities of persons with disabilities and trains such persons in vocational areas according to their physical conditions. Here various techniques are employed to determine physical capacities, vocational interests, work habits and many other characteristics including job endurance of the individuals with disabilities.

People in the working age group are given admission to these centres. Opportunities are provided to develop hobbies which can get converted into vocational skills at some point of time in life. Students can learn stitching, candle making, spice packing, book binding, knitting, basket making, carpentry, shoe repair, handicrafts, tapestry etc.

Teachers working in these centres are carefully trained to have specific competencies. They need to have personal-social capacities such as patience and open-mindedness. They should be well versed in the skills which they train the students and have to be sometimes acting as role models for them.

The Government of India has set up around 20 such Vocational Rehabilitation Centres all over the country. Many Skill Training Workshops have been attached to such centres in order to impart non formal training. Through Rural Rehabilitation Extension Centres, services of VRCs even reach the doorsteps of the disabled persons in the rural areas.

VRCs evaluate problems of the physically challenged and also help them in adjustment related issues. Thus personal adjustment counselling sessions are also held in these centres. Their medical and psychological needs are assessed and then rehabilitation plans are developed for them. Persons with disabilities who are registered with them are sponsored for the notified vacancies.

Thus they are introduced to their potential employers after their training gets over. Such centres sometimes act as distribution centres for various scholarships, aids and schemes available for the disabled people.

VRCs may also refer these people to the financial institutions from where these people with special needs can get adequate funding and loans for their self employment projects.

Thus the main purpose of vocational education is career assessment, awareness, training activities in some specific skills and implementation of various rehabilitation programmes. The Indian education system is the largest in the Commonwealth Countries and said to be the second largest in the world after the U.S. The education system should not lose its true meaning and must necessarily reach all sections of society, whether abled or disabled, through regular teaching or through vocational educational programmes.

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