The Jawaharlal Nehru University has an Equal Opportunity Office (EOO), which was set up, perhaps, as the first of its kind in the country to aid and advise the students belonging to marginalized sections including the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, other backward communities, minority communities, persons with disabilities, etc. pursuing various programs of studies at the University.
The Equal Opportunity Office comprises of:
Chief Advisor : Prof. Krishnendra Meena
Advisor : Dr. Reeta Sony A. L.
Advisor : Prof. Shoba Sivasankaran
The terms of reference wherein the Equal Opportunity Office at the University may undertake activities are inter alia as under:
► To work out suitable programs/ schemes, including Remedial Courses, for improving performance of students from marginalized sections (whether at undergraduate, postgraduate, M Phil, PhD or other levels) and/ or to monitor the implementation of such programs/ schemes;
► To establish co-ordination with government and other funding agencies (including Public Sector Undertakings/ Public Sector Banks) with a view to mobilizing financial and other resources required for educational empowerment of the students from marginalized sections;
► To provide information and act as a counseling-cum-guidance centre for students belonging to the marginalized sections, especially with regard to academic, financial and other matters;
► To help create a socially conducive atmosphere for the growth of healthy inter-personal relations among students from marginalized sections and from various social backgrounds;
► To help develop cordial inter-personal relationships between teachers and the students from marginalized sections for academic interaction and extra-curricular activities;
► To extend help/ support to the students from marginalized sections to overcome problems and barriers emanating from discrimination at any level within its mandate;
► To organize or conduct seminars/ symposia/ workshops/ conferences/ exhibitions, etc. from time-to-time on issues of contemporary significance for empowering, educationally and culturally, students belonging to the marginalized sections.
Several seminars/ symposia/ workshops/ conferences/ lecture series were conducted at the Schools and Centres of the University between 2012 and 2014 under the auspices of the Equal Opportunity Office. The particulars of certain such activities are as under:
|Sl No.||Organisers||Name of the Convenor||Workshops/Seminars/Lectures Series|
|1.||Centre of Indian Languages, School of Language, Literature, Literature & Culture Studies||Prof. K. Nachimuthu||Four-day Lecture Session was held from April 12 to 19, 2012 for the students lagging behind in various courses. In addition, Special Lecture series by experts was also organized.|
|2.||Centre for Social Medicine & Community Health, School of Social Sciences||Prof. Ritu Priya Mehrotra||Workshop on Remedial Coaching Classes was held twice in the first week of April and second week of May 2012 respectively.|
|3.||Centre for the Study of Law & Governance||Prof. Amita Singh||Training Programme in Research Methodology was organized for the students from marginalized sections in April-May 2012.|
|4.||Equal Opportunity Office||Mr. Sandeep
|An event, Antarchakshu – The Eye Within was organized from October 4 to 6, 2012 by XRCVC, Xavier's College, Mumbai, in collaboration with the Equal Opportunity Office, JNU and Saksham Trust, New Delhi.|
|5.||Equal Opportunity Office and the Centre for English Studies, SLL& CS||Dr. Navneet Sethi||A Two-day Workshop "After Employment What?: A Workshop on Challenges Faced, Negotiations Made and Policies Required for Differently Abled Teachers in Institutions of Higher Learning" was organized from November 9 to 10, 2012.|
|6.||Equal Opportunity Office||Mr. Jagdish & Ummul Kher||Celebration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, 2012.|
|7.||Equal Opportunity Office (in collaboration with HURITER, SIS & Society for Disability & Rehabilitation Studies)||Dr G. N. Karna||Celebration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities by convening a Roundtable Conference on "Participation of Persons with Disabilities in Political Processes in India" at Kunzru Conference Room, SIS, JNU on December 3, 2013|
|8.||Equal Opportunity Office||A Film Screening & Discussion on "India Untouched - Stories of a People Apart" was held at SSS, JNU on January 23, 2013|
Office & Centre of Russian Studies, JNU
|A lecture-cum-presentation on Understanding Eye Donation was conducted on January 24, 2014 at the School of Language, Literature & Culture Studies, JNU.|
An Access Audit of the entire campus has been carried out with a view to make academic, administrative and residential buildings and public places in the University campus accessible for wheel-chair users and the visually impaired to facilitate higher education. During the process, a plethora of issues pertaining to the required safety measures and infrastructure facilities were taken into consideration.
The University has been identified as a model higher education institution by the Department of Disability Affairs, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India under the Scheme for Implementation of Persons with Disabilities Act (SIPDA) with a sanction of grant-in-aid of Rs 8.51 Crores approx. for the execution of the first phase of work for creating a barrier-free environment, facilitating the University to make the requisite structural and other changes on the campus. Wherever possible, the Equal Opportunity Office has been assisting the University in the activities which are underway for creating such changes.
Though certain measures (such as putting special ramps, disabled-friendly toilets, etc.) have been taken earlier in order to facilitate persons with disabilities, there remained areas which necessitate further attention and improvement to make the University accessible for disabled persons. The ongoing activity under SIPDA to make the campus barrier-free is a major effort in this direction and to serve the goal of making facilities at the University accessible for persons with disabilities. Efforts undertaken to facilitate scholars/ students with disabilities inter alia include:
Lifts have already been installed in various buildings of the University for facilitating the independence and mobility of the persons with disabilities. While certain measures have been taken in the past to make the lifts accessible to persons with disabilities, further steps, such as installation of Braille Systems, voice systems, etc., are being undertaken to make the lifts more disabled friendly.
A special measure has been taken to provide adequate lights in the toilets in the Schools and the Library to assist the students with low vision. Construction was carried out in the toilets on the ground floors in Koyna and Shipra hostels to make them more disabled-friendly, however, certain problems which are still being faced by students have been identified and efforts are underway to rectify such problems under the SIPDA scheme. Structural modifications in toilets in other areas of the campus are also underway for improved accessibility to persons with disabilities.
Two ATMs, touted as the State Bank of India's first 'real' disabled-friendly ATMs, have been installed in 2012 at the University; in the Poorvanchal Complex and near the Central Library building.
Fourteen wheelchairs (including 2 wheelchairs with commode and folding foot) were procured by the Equal Opportunity Office during this period for students with disabilities.
Blind Sticks for Visually Impaired Students
A significant proportion of visually impaired students pursuing various programs of studies at the University suffer from total blindness. As visually impaired students typically use blind-sticks for their mobility on the campus and in negotiating their way outside the campus, the Equal Opportunity Office purchased fifty good quality blind-sticks from Ramakrishna Mission (Kolkata) for distribution among the visually impaired students of the University.
The financial burden of attending international events such as seminars, symposia and conferences can be significant, in particular, for scholars with disabilities. In view of the fact that there are few or no provisions for extending financial assistance to such scholars, including with the Ministry of Human Resource Development or the UGC or the nodal Department of Disability Affairs, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, the Equal Opportunity Office, under the visionary guidance of the Vice Chancellor, has extended financial assistance to scholars/ students for such purposes with the objective of improving access to academic events. Through such efforts, four scholars/ students with disabilities (including two from SC/ST and OBC) pursuing doctoral research in the University have been assisted in their participation in and in presenting their papers at International Seminars/ Symposia/ Conferences. The details of the presentation made by these scholars are as follows:
(A) A research paper by a PhD Scholar at the School of Computer and Systems Sciences "Relevant Feature Selection from EEG Signals" was selected for presentation at the 16th Pacific Asian Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining (PAKDD 2012) at the Multimedia University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 29th May to 1st June 2012.
(B) A research paper by a PhD scholar at the Centre for Linguistics, School of Language, Literature & Culture Studies "Expanding Research in Languages and Linguistics in Asia" was selected for presentation at the 4th FLL International Postgraduate Conference at University of Malaya, Malaysia from 11th & 12th April 2013. The scholar under reference was also invited to attend the Post Conference Workshop on Research held on 13th April 2013.
(C) A PhD scholar (Physically challenged)enrolled at the Centre for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament (CIPOD), School of International Studies was extended financial assistance for making presentation of a research paper at the 8th International Student/Young Pugwash Conference 2013 on 29-30th October and to participate in the 60th Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs on 'Dialogue, Disarmament, and Regional and Global Security' between 1-5 November, 2013 held at Istanbul, Turkey.
(D) A PhD (Scheduled Caste) scholar at Centre for European Studies, School of International Studies was provided financial support for making a presentation on "Welfareism in the rise of Neoliberalism: A Comparative Study of Nordic States Welfare Model and India Welfare Policy Post 1990" at Nordic Centre of Fudan University, Shanghai, China from 17th to 22nd October 2013.
To meet the special needs of the visually impaired students the following facilities have been put in place at the Central Library of the University in collaboration with the Equal Opportunity Office.
A Unit named after the disability rights activist Helen Keller (equipped with a CD and Book Racks) is instituted at the ground floor of the Central Library building. The it also provides special services to the visually impaired students/ researchers by providing E-Books/ Digital Books, apart from getting scanning works done for them on demand. The MAGIC software has been installed on 5 Desktops for the low vision students/ researchers. The Braille Printers are capable of printing English text, graphics and maps in Braille.
- Helen Keller unit is equipped with the following assistive technologies:
Desktop - 30
JAWS - 30 on each computer
Kurzweil 1000 - 30 on each computer
Computer headphones - 30
HP flatbed scanners - 20
LexCam Scanners - 02
refreshablebraille display - 02
brailleembossors - 02
This unit has been extended to different School/Centres like SSS-I, SSS-II, SIS, CSLG and Sanskrit Centre. These software support the feature enabling reader to hear the e-text in different European languages and Hindi Language.
Library has also distributed the following: also in collaboration with the EOO
Angle Daisy Player - 52
Laptops - 40 (only to M. Phil and Ph.D scholars)
Wheelchairs - 15 (for Physically challenged students)
Locker facility - For visually challenged and Physically challenged students
Library is organising training and orientation programme on the uses of assistive technology for the benefit of these students so that they can use of the latest assistive technologies in their day to day studies. Library is also a member of (Daisy Forum of India) DFI.
The Equal Opportunity Office has been committed to fulfilling its mandate of maintaining social harmony among various sections of the University community. Whenever any case of social discrimination is brought before the Equal Opportunity Office, it is thoroughly investigated and examined and suitable action is recommended. Addressing of issues related to any social discrimination faced by students or staff at any level is amongst the principal objectives of the Equal Opportunity Office. During the period of 2012-14, a total of 12 such complaints were received by the Equal Opportunity Office. The cases have been resolved through in-house meetings. Equal Opportunity Office wishes success to all the students of Jawaharlal Nehru University and is always ready to help theses.