A Virtual Panel Discussion on the topic “Early Screening & Intervention: If They Are Caught, They Can Be Taught!” was organized by Orkids Foundation on June 6, 2023, under the Civil 20 Education and Digital Transformation banner. The focal point of the discussion was the importance of screening and early intervention in light of the Early Childhood, Care, and Education (ECCE) guidelines.
The panelists represented different parts of India and had diverse backgrounds, including researchers, policymakers, special educators, and school administrators. The panelists were:
- Dr. Anupam Ahuja, Former Professor, NCERT
- Dr. Arundhati Sarkar, Director, Manochetna Academic & Research Centre
- Dr. Apoorva Panshikar, Assistant Professor, SNDT University, Mumbai
- Ms. Savita Bhandari, Special Educator, Shiv Nadar School, Gurgaon
- Ms. Poonam Gairola, Coordinator, Nehru World School
Dr. Anupam Ahuja emphasized the importance of Early Screening & Intervention and the need to change the system rather than the child. She discussed SDG Goal 4, NEP 2020, and the RPwD Act 2016. Dr. Ahuja added that the Prashast Screening App had made significant progress. The app addresses all 21 disabilities and is an initial step toward formal identification and certification.
Dr. Apoorva shared her perspective on native language. When English is introduced in grade 4 or 5, particularly in Marathi medium schools, it becomes a late stage for identification. Formal assessment tools like WISIC are not tailored for Hindi medium children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Therefore, there is a need for a tool in our native language that is robust, reliable, and valid.
A question posed to Dr. Arundhati was whether there is a divide between urban and rural. She believes that the divide does exist, but at varied degrees.
Ms. Poonam Gairola said Nehru World School has been utilizing the First Screen App to identify children with learning gaps. The need for identification arose as teachers observed significant learning gaps in children, particularly in the aftermath of the pandemic, and emphasized the need for identification.
Ms. Savita Bhandari believes that screening apps like First Screen aid in establishing goals for Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). They assist in identifying areas of concern and facilitate the review of the child’s progress.
The panel discussion resonated with the tagline: “If They Are Caught, They Can Be Taught!”