New Delhi: In an effort to help special children in solving their queries related to board exams, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) for the first time has started special helplines with designated educators to answer the queries of disabled students who are taking Class 10 and Class 12 exams.
Four special educators figure in the list of 43 counsellors who will help students and parents overcome anxiety and stress during the board exams, which often prove nerve-wracking for students. This year the exams begin March 2.
The helplines are Abha Sharma, Mumbai, 9967800337; MR Shipley, Mumbai, 9833950896; Hetal Sayla, Mumbai, 9819209623; and Shweta Khanna, Delhi, 9717882074. Moreover, students can also resolve their queries by visiting CBSE's website.
"Realising the specific needs of specially-abled children taking the board exams for Class 10 and Class 12, for the first time we have included special helplines with educators to take care of them," CBSE Public Relations Officer Rama Sharma said.
Like all the counsellors, the special educators are available online as well as on telephone from centres located in Mumbai and Delhi from February 1 to April 2. However, most queries are expected to start coming in about 15 days before the exams begin.
"Parents and children with special needs can call the number and get all their problems and doubts related to board exams cleared," Sharma said.
MR Shipley, a special educator in Mumbai, said counselling specially-abled children requires a lot of patience and love.
"I empathise with them and try to step into their shoes to make them understand how to overcome problems during exams. I tell them nothing is wrong with them and try to boost their confidence so that the child is not under kind of pressure or demoralised," Shipley said.
She is a counsellor with the Apeejay chain of schools and a CBSE resource person for the Adolescent Education Programme.
The special educators are more polite while dealing with disabled children, they also try to talk to the parents and explain the facilities provided by the CBSE to such children.
The CBSE offers exemptions to physically challenged, spastic and dyslexic candidates taking the month-long board exams.
"Concessions to physically challenged and dyslexic students are in the form of extra time—they have 60 more minutes to write the exam, a writer in the board exam and flexibility in subject choice at secondary level," a CBSE special educator Heetal Sayla said.
Sayla, who had worked with the Learning Disability clinic of the Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital, Mumbai, said, "For me, it will be a new experience as I am catering to the CBSE helpline for the first time."
"These kids should be looked up with love and patience and encouraged. I know many specially-abled students who perform quite well in their exams after counselling," Sayla said.
The CBSE has also given special training to teachers for marking criteria for such children in board exams.
Another counsellor, Abha Sharma, said specially-abled kids are really vocal and there is a need to understand their strong abilities.
"It is difficult to completely understand the children in tele-counselling. At times you need to talk to both the parents and children to make things easier for them," Sharma said.
Last year, 1.31 million children appeared for the Class 10 and Class 12 board exams. Of them, students with special needs made up 0.17 per cent.