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Open up govt jobs for NIOS students: Stakeholders

Accusing the School Education Department of discrimination, disability rights activists and educationalists claim that it defeats the goal of inclusivity

Open up govt jobs for NIOS students: Stakeholders

School Education Department

CHENNAI: While the School Education Department has been keen on inclusive education and actively advocated for it through awareness drives on one side, it has simultaneously restricted candidates with the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) certification from Tamil Nadu for jobs on the other side.

This has outraged several stakeholders, from previous NIOS candidates, field experts to school principals who have urged the department to revoke this notification.

Early this year, the School Education department has issued a GO that students who passed classes 10 and 12 from the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) will not be eligible for employment in public services and promotion, as the academic programme it offered was not equivalent to the one offered by various boards of the TN government.

However, stakeholders pointed out that this decision was not only discriminatory, but also against the goal of inclusive education that the department was keen to achieve. Besides, some activists have also alleged that the Dravidian-model government should categorically do away with the NIOS programme, which is, in fact, part of the Union government’s Samagra Shiksha.

M Ummulkhair, a coordinator of the Disability Legislative Unit of Vidya Sagar, a disability services and support organisation in the city, recalled her journey with NIOS. “Due to my physical disability, lack of economical support and awareness, I was unable to begin education as a regular student. Only at 21 years, I joined Class 10 under NIOS. It took me 3 years to complete. And then I pursued 2 degrees – UG in sociology and a Law degree from Dr Ambedkar Government Law College. NIOS gives flexible education opportunities, unlike the regular school academic programme,” she said.

Incidentally, Ummul, despite having completed the Law degree, had trouble enrolling in the bar council around 2017. However, due to petitions that followed, she was ultimately able to enroll herself into the council.

Ummul added that as she had the opportunity to pursue education despite her age and disability, she now works within various welfare activities and legal services for the people. When questioned about TN government’s announcement on restricting NIOS candidates from trying State government jobs, Ummul wondered, “When the CBSE allows the same NIOS certificates to be equivalent, why should the State do the same?”

Additionally, another candidate with multiple-disability who also finished her Class 10 under NIOS in 2008 said that the government’s announcement was discriminatory. “I could not study classes 1-9 due to physical conditions, but I was able to finish Class 10 because of NIOS, which is on par with other curriculum,” she said. “The State government restricting NIOS is nothing less than depriving opportunities for all, and reeks of discrimination. Education should be accessible by all, despite age, physical condition along with job opportunities. Hence, the government must revoke the announcement.”

Under NIOS, a candidate with any kind of condition can pursue education at any age. They can select six subjects out of the 18 listed under NIOS programme. The candidate can also continue education from afar, while travelling or with the help of point-of-contact-person (PCP). The programme is functional at more than 30 schools in the city with over 250 students.

Explaining the need for NIOS, Sujatha Sriram, an inclusive specialist who works with candidates pursuing education under NIOS, said, “The State government curriculum is more rigid and does not suit candidates with disability, out-of-school students, those pursuing sports and music, and other fields. Hence, NIOS has several upsides to it compared to mainstream education,” she explained.

With hundreds of students already enrolled in NIOS schools, Sujatha too urges the government to revoke the announcement to ensure job opportunities for all.

A city school principal told DT Next that there were candidates pursuing education under NIOS to prepare for NEET. “The standards of NIOS are already competitive enough with other syllabus. Also, the programme has been recently updated,” stated the principal.

Nirupa Sampath
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