Sandesh Prabhudesai in Panaji
Following the successful implementation of a social security scheme for the aged, Goa has now formulated a special package for underprivileged children, who are mentally or physically challenged.
Most of the children in Goa attend school, though a small section still remains unprivileged in terms of education and counselling. The proposed scheme would cover such children as well as the educational institutions.
The scheme plans to provide pre-school training as well as special training during schooling, counselling of parents as well as special training for the teachers.
The scheme covers mentally retarded children or those who are mentally ill with an IQ [Intelligent Quotient] of less than 100, physically challenged children with hearing problem, deaf and dumb, orthopaedically challenged, including polio and accident cases and visually impaired children.
"I want to provide all possible help to these children so that they are prepared to face the society with full confidence," Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said.
The scheme will provide them assistance till the age of 18 years, and even up to 21 in some cases.
It will provide an annual grant of Rs 400 for books and stationary, Rs 500 for uniforms, monthly travelling allowance of Rs 200, escort allowance of Rs 200, monthly incentive of Rs 300 per child to institutions and Rs 3,000 once in five years to buy necessary equipment.
The scheme will cost the exchequer Rs 5.2 million, and will immediately cover 2,500 school going children. Parrikar, however, expects the cost to reach Rs two crore eventually.
The tiny coastal state with a literacy rate above 75 per cent also plans to assist the regular schools, which admit any such child, besides special schools run for the less privileged children.
Parrikar also has made it compulsory to keep teacher-pupil ratio at 1:8 and even 1:4 in special cases.
Besides one state-run school, there are four privately run schools for the mentally and physically retarded children.
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