Jagadguru Rambhadracharya Handicapped University (JRHU) is the first university of its kind not only in India but also in the whole world. The university offers graduate, post-graduate and doctoral courses exclusively to disabled students. It was founded by Jagadguru Rambhadracharya in 2001, and established by the Government of Uttar Pradesh by the JRHU Act which also declared Jagadguru Rambhadracharya as the life-long chancellor of the university. The university is approved by the University Grants Commission and is entitled to donations being exempt from Income Tax under section 35 AC of the Income Tax Act of India, 1961.
As per the Census of India 2001, 2.1% of India’s population consisted of disabled people. However, non-government estimates by Access Ability and Disability World put the number as high as 8% and 10% respectively. Of these, only 5% are covered under the formal education. The National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) statistics indicate that only 0.51% of disabled children in India are covered under mainstream school education, while the number for university education is even lower at 0.1%. Only limited educational institutes cater to the special need of disabled students, and just reservations are not enough to provide appropriate professional education to the disabled. Feeling an urgent need to address these issues, Guruji founded JRHU as a university exclusively for the disabled.
The university was first founded by the JRHU Ordinance promulgated by the Governor of Uttar Pradesh on August 7, 2001. The ordinance was later replaced by the JRHU Act passed by the UP Legislature on October 5, 2001. Classes at the university began on August 23, 2001. The First Statutes of JRHU were approved by the Government of UP on October 18, 2002. The JRHU Rules were framed by the Government of UP on January 15, 2002. In the same year, the university was accorded the membership of the Association of Indian Universities, New Delhi.
The vision of JRHU is threefold. It aims to ensure greater participation of the disabled in higher and professional education. Secondly, it aims to provide disabled with disabled-friendly campus, classrooms and courses. As the third and most important part of the vision, it aims to prepare students of great character, who are enriched with traditional and modern knowledge. The objectives of JRHU are accessible, affordable and appropriate education for disabled students; provision of home-based learning for persons with disabilities; facilitation of access for disabled students from rural and remote areas; imparting traditional and modern knowledge for an enriched experience; training and research facilities for personnel engaged in rehabilitation and service of persons with disabilities; exchange of ideas and experiences regarding new techniques with national and international agencies, organizations, or individuals interested in teaching and research of disabled students; promotion of the disabled spiritually, socially and economically by providing suitable education and bringing them into the mainstream; and exploration of suitable placement opportunities for the disabled graduates. The logo of the university artistically represents the four different types of disabled people (visually impaired, hearing impaired, mobility impaired and mentally impaired), along with the Sanskrit motto । सेवाधर्मः परमगहनः । (IAST sevādharmaḥ paramagahanaḥ, meaning “the duty of service is extremely difficult”) and the photograph of the life-long Chancellor.
The learning of basic Sanskrit and Computer is compulsory at JRHU. The university believes that Sanskrit must be learned as it is the mother of all Indian languages and the essence of Indian culture, while knowledge of computers is necessary for the disabled to meet modern challenges. There is a high priority on character building and physical fitness. The learning methodologies are participative and interactive, and modern teaching aids suitable to the four types of disabled are used. The curriculum is enriched by seminars, symposia and Workshops at state and national levels to provide appropriate exposure to students.There are indoor and outdoor sports facilities specifically designed for disabled students,
and notes for courses are available in Braille for visually impaired students.Hostel facility which meets the special needs of disabled students is provided. Currently visual, hearing and mobility impaired students study at the university.
The tuition is free for academic courses, and subsidized for professional courses. Boarding and transportation is subsidized for all students. Lodging is free for visually impaired and subsidized for the hearing impaired and mobility impaired. Aids, appliances and gymnasium are available for use free of cost. Free counselling and guidance (for students and parents) and placement services in public and private sector are provided.
JRHU has 16 proposed faculties, out of which 8 are currently functioning – Humanities, Social Sciences, Fine Arts, Music, Computer and Information Sciences, Education, Vocational Studies and Management. There are 12 departments under these seven faculties – Departments of Sanskrit, Hindi, English, Economics, Psychology, Sociology, Social Work, History Culture & Archeology, Computer & Information Sciences, Music, Drawing & Painting, Fine Arts, Education, Special Education, Vocational Education and Management Studies. Undergraduate courses offered at JRHU include BA, BCA, BBA, BFA, BMusic, BEd and BEd Special (for hearing and visually impaired). Postgraduate courses include MA, MEd, MEd Special (for visually impaired) and MSW. The university offers diploma courses in IT and MS Office, and post-graduate diploma course in IT. Doctoral degrees are also offered in specific courses for doctoral research.
JRHU has a Rehabilitation and Development Centre which aims to serve rural disabled youth. It offers composite rehabilitation through trans-disciplinary approach. Major activities of the RDC include rehabilitation and health checkup camps for the disabled in rural areas near Chitrakuta, vocational training programmes, OPD facilities for hearing impaired, assistive devices facility (Prosthetics and Orthotics), resource rooms for visually and hearing impaired, and guidance and placement assistance.
The Instrument Maintenance Facility (IMF) Centre at JRHU is setup as per the UGC guidelines. It provides effective and economic repair and maintenance services for scientific instruments and computer hardware. It is engaged in staff development through training, and provides opportunity to exchange experience with other IMFs in India.
The Guidance and Placement Centre explores career opportunities for disabled graduates and post-graduates. It creates awareness about needs of the disabled in higher education. It strives for equal opportunities to the disabled in higher education, and also monitors implementation of legislation pertaining to higher education for people with disability.
To extend horizons, JRHU has signed memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with five institutes across the country – IIIT Allahabad, Sri Sadguru Seva Trust Chitrakuta, Department of Cerebral Palsy at NIMS Hyderabad, Department of Psychology Allahabad University and National Institute for Visually Handicapped Dehradun.
The university organized a national camp on contemporary painting, Rang Shade, from January 7 to 14, 2008. It held the National Workshop on Art in March 2008. A total of 354 students were awarded graduate and post-graduate degrees in the second convocation held on March 7, 2010. On the third convocation held on January 14, 2011, 380 students passed out.
An autonomous institute, JRHU does not receive government funding and is solely run by the money raised by Katha programmes of the Chancellor, Jagadguru Rambhadracharya. We request you to kindly come forward and join this noble effort for providing education to the disabled by contributing. Your affinity to this noble cause and your genuine sympathy for the disabled gives us courage to approach you to help us in this noble cause. JRHU shall be grateful for whatever assistance you can provide so that we can continue with this noble scheme, thereby holding out hope to the hopeless.