inclusive education

Dr Uma Tuli

Children are a nation’s most valuable asset. It is our responsibility to ensure that every child is able to live a happy and productive life. For this, it is essential to develop their potential to the maximum. Education is an important pre-requisite for empowering and equipping children to meet the challenges of life and helps in their holistic development.

 Dr Ankur Madan

Abstract

When I first started to work with children with special needs, I was passionate and loved my subject area. As an Occupational Therapist, I had to observe the students in classroom and also while doing other co-curricular activities like sports, art and self-care, etc. Despite this, I was clueless when it came to classroom management with special needs children. I went into the classroom thinking that a well-planned lesson plan would take care of itself. But I found that it wasn’t so!

When the students left the room, Ansal Scaria smiled and said to this writer, ‘See, these are the very students who did not wish to study till yesterday. They just need people to believe in them and they can all achieve too.’ That day, the children learned to push themselves and I witnessed the power of belief. This is what a great leader does to a school.

English

Inclusive Education is an educational philosophy that brings all types of students together to create a class or school environment that is based on acceptance, belonging and a respect for human diversity. Inclusive education is about ensuring the rights to education of the disabled learners, who are often the most marginalised within education systems and within society in general. Traditionally, they have experienced exclusion, discrimination and segregation from the mainstream and from their peers.

Education, it is said, liberates the human being, modifies his/her behaviour by drawing out the best from every pupil. Today, however, the meaning of education appears to have undergone a definite change; at least school education has. It has come to be synonymous with getting high marks in the school leaving examination. Again, there is no guarantee that these ‘brilliant’ youngsters will actually remember what they learnt.

North 24-Parganas district in West Bengal is dotted with brick kilns. These have always provided seasonal employment to landless labour from the arid regions of Purulia, Bankura, Jharkhand and Bihar. But there are no amenities for the thousands of migrant families who throng to the kilns and child labour is rampant.

English

The academic session is coming to an end and the students are stressed out preparing for their Board Examinations. I am desperately trying to make the class alive and cheerful. My normal class consists of two students diagnosed with cerebral palsy, one visually impaired student, a non-verbal student with multiple disabilities; two intellectually challenged, two with learning disabilities and three others with normal intelligence, but dropped out of mainstream schools due to economic and other family problems.

Effecting inclusion involves an attitude of acceptance. The diversity of faiths, customs, languages, and ethnicities in India places us in professional, social, personal situations where we are presented with opportunities to practice inclusion-- and for acceptance of the differences. In many ways then we have been practicing aspects of inclusion-exclusion in our routines of work, social and personal practices. Given the diversities within our context inclusion as a concept is thus not new to Indian society or to its ancient and/or traditional practices.

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