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 Last year, around $17.5 million was spent on surgeries and other support services including cochlear implants, hearing aids devices, walkers and wheelchairs to special needs students.
 Last year, around $17.5 million was spent on surgeries and other support services including cochlear implants, hearing aids devices, walkers and wheelchairs to special needs students.

Fourfold Increase in Funding for Education of Special Needs Students

Fourfold Increase in Funding for Education of Special Needs Students

As the cost of educating a child with special needs is four times that of a normal student, the Education Ministry has increased funding for special education fourfold to bridge the gap.
According to Majid Ghadami, deputy education minister, there are about 130,000 children with special needs who constitute around one percent of the 13 million students at the primary, middle and high school levels.
Mentally challenged children make up the majority requiring special attention.
In the school year (started September 2016), more than 5,400 differently-abled students entered the first grade, of whom 224 were visually-impaired, 228 had hearing impairment, 150 had disability in walking or moving, 323 had autism or other emotional-behavioral complications, and 4,533 were mentally-disabled children.
“There are 1,570 schools for special students which offer not only educational and rehabilitation services, but also free support programs,” Ghadami said, ISNA reported.
Last year, around 700 billion rials ($17.5 million) was spent on surgeries and other support services including cochlear implants, hearing aids devices, spectacles, walkers and wheelchairs to special needs students.
Despite the facilities, however, many families conceal their children’s disabilities and deprive them of education by not sending them to schools, he added.
Students with slow learning disability also benefit from certain special schemes.
“Each year, 30,000 slow learning students are diagnosed under the education system in the country,” said the official.
Slow learning students are those with an intelligence quotient of between 71 and 85 who suffer mental and health issues such as lack of attention and concentration, inability to generalize new information in similar situations (as in autistic children), articulation and language problems, physical illnesses, high fever, convulsion, malnutrition, and lack of confidence and self-esteem.
The deputy minister lamented the lack of adequate personnel for special education needs which must be addressed through recruitment examinations at the national level, he stressed.

  Programs to Facilitate Learning
The ministry has also conducted programs to facilitate learning for exceptional students.
Ghadami had earlier said that special students are not incapacitated or unable to learn; rather, they need different set of instructions tailored to meet their distinctive learning abilities.
The Education Ministry says that transport services for exceptional students are 100% free in deprived areas and in less developed and developed regions, only 30% of the transport charges have to be paid.
Final exams as well as the university entrance examination for blind students have been held in written form and the students are given Braille question papers since 2015.
Earlier, blind and visually impaired students had to give oral exams or readers were appointed to read the question papers but the method was found inconvenient.
Also, 50 educational courses are to be held for teachers in the new academic year (starts September) to enhance their knowledge and skills in special education.
Exceptional needs students require special educational help because of their mental or physical disabilities. It is indeed a challenging task for educationists to assess children with intellectual disabilities, mobility issues or behavioral difficulties. The types of support that need to be provided upon starting school  depend also on the individual needs of the child.

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