Disabled students in fix as DU colleges wait for fee waiver notification

Physically challenged students in various Delhi University colleges said they were not receiving the benefits of measures announced by the university. Many students do not have enough money to pay fees and colleges said they had not received notifications about fee waivers from the university's waivers for students with disabilities have not been implemented.

With hardly any financial support from home, Durgesh Teli, a second-year visually impaired student of Political Science (Honours) at Ramjas College, often has to depend on his friends to make ends meet. Although he got a seat in the college hostel in second year, Durgesh was not in a position to pay the hostel fees.

"The college had allowed me to pay the hostel fees for the third semester in three instalments. With a little help from some people, I was able to pay the first instalment. Two instalments are yet to be paid," Durgesh said.

The new semester begun in January, and Durgesh has to pay hostel fees for his fourth semester. "I have been asked to pay the fees as soon as possible otherwise I will have to move out of the hostel," he said.

The university had recently announced that tuition and hostel fees for students with disabilities will be waived off. While a notification has been issued to all university hostels, the notice regarding college hostels has not been issued yet.

"We have received a notification which gives additional seats to students with disability in college hostels. However, any circular from the university regarding the college hostel fees being waived off has not been received," the Ramjas College hostel warden said.

University Registrar Alka Sharma said, "The Executive Council has passed a resolution regarding this. We are in the process of issuing notices to college hostels."

Access to reading material, transportation and private accommodation remain major problems for students with disabilities.

Riswana Khatoon, who studies History (H) at Daulat Ram College, said, "I was staying in a hostel run by an NGO in Sant Nagar in my first year. Two to three girls shared each room in the hostel and it was difficult to study. While I was able to get a seat in the university's Rajiv Gandhi Hostel for Girls eventually, many girls stay at these private hostels and face problems."

Another student of History (H), Rishoo Singh, said, "I have not been able to get reading material for this semester. The Braille studio in the university is not equipped to deal with the bulk of demands for readings. It takes a number of weeks for one book to be recorded."

According to Bipin Tiwari, Officer on Special Duty, Equal Opportunity Cell, colleges need to play a more active part in solving the problems faced by students.

"Every college has an enabling unit which should be looking at these issues. The EOC cannot provide every facility; the enabling units in colleges will have to be strengthened. Some colleges had problems regarding implementation of university rules that waived off tuition fees. We have been writing to colleges and asking them to implement all the measures and provide the university with a report on the action taken by them. The university will also conduct surprise visits to colleges to ascertain what steps have been taken by them," Tiwari said.

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