Once the strategy and approach were decided upon, Kudumbashree Mission was left with the question of who would own and run the schools. Consistent with its overall strategy, the Mission proposed that the local government institutions should be setting up and running the schools with support and guidance from the Mission. This was considered important from a sustainability perspective.
Therefore, the institutional system proposed for BUDS Schools was local government institutions owning them with Kudumbashree Mission providing support and guidance through the CDS, and the community organisation offering field level support.
By 2009 March, eleven Grama Panchayats had set up BUDS Schools in the State. The next step was to register the schools under Persons with Disabilities Act 1995 with the State Government’s Department of Education. In 2009, the Government considered a request by the Kudumbashree Mission and allocated Rs 12 crore for providing grant in aid to the existing special schools in the State.
This was an instance when the Government went beyond what was requisitioned and allotted six times the funds, given the importance of the cause. In 2010, all the registered special schools in the State including BUDS schools got Rs 10 lakh each as grant in aid. This was a first of its kind in the history of the State, a step that has now led to the Government considering bringing such schools under the Government-aided schools category.
BUDS Schools, as a concept, are not substitutes to other special schools that work in the State. It is more of a gap filling institution catering to remote areas and the poorest of the poor. At the same time, it is an assurance against monopolistic practices that are likely to emerge in a sector increasingly controlled by market interests.
BUDS Schools offer free education and training, free food, and free transportation to all its students.
BUDS Schools are free and open special schools where parental participation is encouraged; parents can visit and be with their children whenever they want. Parental participation is considered necessary for achieving the initiative’s objective of helping the mentally challenged children to move from dependency to self-dependence or independence. Visitors do not have restrictions in the school premises; however, priority has been given on the safety and security of the children.
All children in BUDS School are classified based on a Programming Schedule (commonly referred to as a Checklist). Once enrolled in the pre-primary of a BUDS School, the children are expected to develop their skills over a period of three years.
- At the end of three years, those who have achieved 75% of the expected improvement move to Primary I; others move to Primary II
- After three more years in Primary I or Primary II, those who achieve 75% of the expected improvement move to Secondary; others move to Pre-Vocational Division
- Those who achieve 75% of the expected improvement over three years in the above categories move to Vocational Division
The Government of Kerala issued guidelines to the Local Government Institutions for setting up and running BUDS Schools so that the quality standards of services are ensured. Given below are the guidelines.
- The schools should be located at places easily accessible by public transport and with the least possibility of accidents; while deciding on the location, places accessible to people from more than one local body should be given priority.
- The school should have at least 15 cents of land of its own; otherwise such area of public land should be available.
- A minimum built up area of 40 square feet for one child; school should not start functioning unless there are at least 25 children of 5 – 21 age group.
- School building should have at least five class rooms (this can be a larger hall partitioned into class rooms), office room, staff room, recreation space, store, kitchen, dining room, space for conducting vocational training, therapy, and day care centre.
- Building should be barrier free and accident free.
- There should be at least four bath rooms each for boys and girls; at least one each should be provided with European closet.
- Kitchen, store room, and dining area should be clean and free of dust, smoke, dampness, and dirt.
- Clean dining tables, drinking water, facility for hand wash, and system for waste disposal should be provided.
- Adequate number of teaching aids, furniture, vocational training tools, and physiotherapy equipment should be ensured.
- School should have three trained teachers (Rehabilitation Council of India- RCI), two nurses, and a cook. Staff strength should increase in accordance with the increase in the number of students.
- Appropriate furniture should be provided to each student according to the type of disability.
- School should organise vocational training for adult students.
- Mothers of children with serious disabilities should be allowed to be with the student during school hours.
- Regular visits of physiotherapist, speech therapist, medical officer, and social worker should be ensured; there should be a system for counselling.
- Transport facility should be provided to the students.
- Parents’ meeting should be organised at least monthly.
- LSGIs should find sources and mobilise additional resources so that the burden on plan funds in meeting the running expenses of the school could be kept at minimum level.
- All children with disabilities in the local body should be considered for individual benefits; in addition, special survey should be organised to identify people with disabilities with the support of the State Commission for People with Disabilities.
- It would be advisable to conduct feasibility study before starting the school in order to convince the three tier local bodies (Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) Family Survey Document).
- Each block could have a BUDS school; blocks with large areas may have more schools than one. No need to start BUDS schools in Panchayats where private or voluntary agencies are running schools satisfactorily. However, day care centres may be set up in such Panchayats subject to the conditions for utilisation of plan funds. Such centres should be registered with the Social Welfare Department as per the provisions of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights, and Full Participation) 1955.
- Hence forth, schools should be set up only after ensuring convergence of resources among the three tier panchayat institutions and by ensuring minimum required facilities and human resources.
- Schools, on opening, should be registered with the Department of Education as per the provisions of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights, and Full Participation) Act 1955 without delay.
- LSGIs should avail the permission of District Level Advisory Committee before starting institutions on the lines of BUDS School.
The Government of Kerala through orders set up a District Level Advisory Committee to provide guidance in setting up BUDS Schools and also to monitor their functioning as per the guidelines issued by the Government. The following are the members of the Committee.
- President of the District Panchayat, Chairperson
- Kudumbashree District Mission Coordinator, Convenor
- Deputy Director (DD) of Education, Member
- Government Nominee (Community Development, Medical College, Member
- District Planning Officer, Member
- District Social Development Officer, Member
- President of the Grama Panchayat, Member
- President of the Block Panchayat, Member
- Chairperson of the Block/ Grama Panchayat Welfare Standing Committee, Member
The following functionaries would be special invitees to the meetings of the Committee.
- District Project Officer, Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA)
- All Standing Committee Chairpersons of the District Panchayat
- Elected representatives of the local body initiating/ running the BUDS School
In addition to examining and approving the BUDS School as per the guidelines, the Committee is expected to oversee the performance, provide guidance for improving performance, take steps to ensure support of experts, and conduct tri-monthly review of performance of the school.
In order to ensure proper setting up and maintenance of BUDS School, the State Government issued orders setting up BUDS Special School Development and Management Committees. Setting up of the Committee was in response to Kudumbashree’s request to the State Government to form permanent institutional level committees for BUDS Schools.
The intention was to make the Committee eligible to seek financial and other support from various sources in line with the directions in the Kerala Panchayat Act 1994 and Kerala Municipalities Act 1994. This was found necessary as ensuring the high levels of quality and support necessary for running BUDS Schools was not practical if the local bodies depended only on government funds. Members of the Committee are the following.
- The head of the local government that owns BUDS school
- Welfare standing committee chairperson of the local government
- Secretary of the local government
- Representatives of local MLA and MP
- Elected representatives (GP, BP and DP) of the ward where BUDS schools are situated
- Heads of all nearby local governments that send children to the BUDS school
- School head
- Representative of school staff
- Four parents (two mothers)
- Two persons nominated by local government from social workers, experts, NGOs working in the sector
- CDS chairperson, member secretary and charge officer and ADS chairperson from the ward with BUDS school
- CHC/PHC doctor, child development project officer, ICDS supervisor, health inspector, lady health inspector belong to that area.
- In urban local bodies all standing committee chairpersons and four councillors will be members of the BUDS school development and management committee.
The Committees were proposed with a wide range of functions, as seen in their memorandum of association and byelaws. These included the following.
- Ensuring that the BUDS Schools function as per guidelines, and also planning for follow up activities
- Ensuring that the service levels are maintained as per various applicable laws starting from Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights, and Full Participation)Act 1955, evaluating the functioning of the school and overseeing utilisation of funds
- Extending support to local governments in
- Preparing database of persons with disabilities
- Addressing the problems of persons with disabilities
- Ensuring rehabilitation
- Instituting useful services such as survey for early identification of disabilities, health check-up, sensitisation programmes, distribution of implements, counselling and guidance, community mobilisation and networking.
- Setting up common funds by mobilising grants, donations, and contribution in cash or kind including government support and ensuring its proper utilisation for the development of the institution and maintenance of accounts.
- Supplementing the honorarium provided to the staff by the LSGs as per requirement through other sources, and deploy additional staff as per requirement.
- Ensuring free lunch, nutritional supplements, medicines, and health care support to the students.
- Ensuring proper maintenance of infrastructure and facilities.
- Working as implementation agency for projects under people’s planning.
- Functioning as vigilance committee protecting the rights of the students against violation of their rights and any form of violence against them.
- Organising cultural events and activities for the welfare and for enhancing the dignity of mentally challenged persons.
- Conducting employment training, organising production centre, and running day care centres for the mentally challenged of above 21 years of age.
- Reducing vulnerabilities and enhancing dignity of mentally challenged persons through organising self-help groups, facilitating self-employment, supporting thrift and credit, and initiating insurance schemes.
- Making parent teacher associations and parents’ forums more effective.
- Organising training programmes for the skill and capacity development of teaching and non-teaching staff.
- Preparing citizen charter, conducting social audit, and announcing the services offered by the institution.
- Taking up and implementing projects under various schemes of the Central Government and other agencies for the overall development of the institution and the benefit of the students.
- Organising correctional medical treatment for the disabled persons, rehabilitation schemes, and credit schemes for self-employment promotion.