Total Page/Topic Views of Our Dil Se Desi Students' Corner Blog w.e.f. 16.30 Hrs, 21/06/11 Blog

Recent Topics on Dil Se Desi Students Corner Blog

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Inclusive Education

Inclusion, in letter and in practice



   Inclusive education means that every child irrespective of gender, religion, socio-economic background or needs has a right to attend a mainstream school. Though the government claims to ensure education for every child, schools still lack an inclusive environment where students with different needs are made to feel welcome. 
   Though inclusion is the new mantra, the child's learning needs has to be at the centre of the philosophy. "Inclusion is about more than merely placing a child in a mainstream classroom. What matters is the right kind of attitude and support towards children. It is the right of every child to be educated, we are not doing any charity," says Syed Sallauddin Pasha, a disabled rights activist. 
   In letter, all the 11.8 lakh government and government-aided schools, under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, across the country have adopted an inclusive education (IE) approach. But in practice, most schools including the private ones follow an integrated rather than an inclusive approach, which means they have special educational needs department or resource centres within the school to assess children and accordingly provide extra learning support. 
   Agrees Subhash Khuntia, joint secretary, ministry of human resources development (MHRD): "Though a few private schools are following an inclusive approach, government schools are still lagging behind. So, we plan to release an inclusive education (IE) programme soon wherein it would be made mandatory for government schools to enrol a few students with special needs." 


According to Renu Singh, national manager (education), Save the Children, inclusion seeks to address the learning needs of all children, youth and adults with a specific focus on those who are vulnerable to marginalisation and exclusion. And according to a 2005 MHRD report, it is aimed at making all stakeholders in the system (learners, parents, community, teachers, administrators, policymakers) comfortable with diversity and to see it as a challenge rather than a problem. 
   On the other hand, Singh adds, the National Curriculum Framework for School Education (NCERT, 2000) has recommended inclusive schools for learners with special educational needs by making appropriate modifications in the content, presentation and transaction strategies, preparing teachers and developing learning friendly evaluation procedures. 
   And as for her definition to inclusion: "Making schools ready for 'all' children rather than restricting it to children with disabilities. Schools must address the needs of all disadvantaged groups like the girl child, street and working children, and tribal children and those with disabilities." 


When a group of students from class IX were asked what disability means to them, they related it to various physical and mental illnesses — those who are unable to express emotions, people who behave differently in society and even those who get irritated easily. They called children with such disabilities andha (blind), langda (cripple) and so on. 
   Teachers fare no better. When asked the same question, some talked of the 'mentally-challenged' while others described it as an unusual illness. Besides, parents are reluctant even to accept their child as differently-abled and continue to harbour high expectations. 


"We enrol a child with special needs as long as he/she doesn't disturb the class or attract the attention of other students' parents," says Sita Laxmi Vishwanath, principal, Amrita Vidyalayam School, Chennai. She admits that she once cancelled the admission of a class II child because he was 'hyperactive'. "The problem lies in the fact that such students don't follow instructions and don't sit in one place, especially when it comes to writing. They make a mess of everything," she adds. 
   Sanskriti School in Delhi, too, follows an integrated approach. While they mainstream students for all extra-curricular activities and recreation, when it comes to academics, students are taught separately in their learning centre. Informs Bitti Oberoi, director, learning centre, Sanskriti: "We have 60 students with special needs who can be handled in a structured environment. Most of them have learning disabilities and cannot cope if put in regular classrooms. But, if a child is capable enough or is trained with time, then we do mainstream him/her." 


Anupriya Chadha, IE consultant, says: "The whole idea is to make the system 'child-centred' and a school can be called inclusive only if it can address a range of services that a child needs, besides his/her physical placement." She believes many schools shy away from mainstreaming children after enrolling them. She adds: "In practice, there are just a handful of private schools which are following an inclusive approach." 
   Loreto Day School-Kolkata, for instance, is following an inclusive approach. They have enrolled children ranging from child labourers, street children to even those with special 
   needs among others. Informs S M Cyril, school principal: "Nearly 50% of our students are from varied backgrounds and they are well integrated into our mainstream classrooms." 
   Elaborating on why the school has just one special educator, she says: "We don't consider these students as different and hence, the entire education takes place in regular classrooms. However, some students who need additional help are given extra classes everyday for an hour." 
   She adds further: "Once a week, 150 children from the school, including those who are vulnerable to marginalisation and exclusion, are sent to villages to teach." 
   On the other hand, Springdales School-Pusa Road, follows an 'inclusive-integrated' approach, according to the school's principal, Ameeta Mulla Wattal. She adds: "We have around 20% children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. We mainstream them in regular classrooms and also provide them with mid-day meals and clothing besides recreation. Also, during admissions we give extra marks to children from different linguistic and regional backgrounds. So, our school has integration (inclusion) at all levels." 
   The school also has students with special needs. "We have an inclusive education centre with two special educators where children can get extra help and coaching if they can't follow. For instance, if a child is not good at mathematics, he/she can opt for music studies and so on," adds Wattal. 
   Laxman Public School also follows a similar model, according to principal Usha Ram. She informs: "We have around 70 children with multiple disabilities. Besides, we have over 100 children with learning disabilities including those from different socio-economic backgrounds, who have been mainstreamed into our regular classrooms." The school claims to have 20 special educators. She adds: "We have been following this practice for the past 14 years and the only additional help required by these children is in language skills, which we impart after their regular classes." 
   Likewise, Shri Ram School, Vasant Vihar, has also enrolled 40 children with special needs. Samira Panigrahi, its special needs co-ordinator, explains: "A team of our teachers formulate an Individualised Education Programme for each student in consultation with their parents, which specifies the learning goals that are to be achieved by the student over time." 


Elaborating on the vocational skills imparted, Panigrahi says: "Some activities are conducted separately so that we can improve their skills. These activities include art and clay modelling, yoga and physical education. At the junior level, intensive input in development of visual and auditory perception, inferential thinking, language exercises and motor skills development is also carried out." 
   Similarly, Rita Kaul, principal, Millennium Schools, opines, "We need to accept a child the way he/she is and show that we care." Kaul's school currently caters to eight students with special needs. Echoing similar views, Annie Koshi, principal, St Mary's School, adds: "Inclusion enables a diverse environment in a classroom. And thus, allows children to be empathetic and be able to understand the world around them." Her school has children with special needs and those from various socio-economic backgrounds who are mainstreamed into regular classrooms. 
   Informs Vandana Puri, principal, Salwan Public School and a special educator: "We have 22 visually-impaired students studying in regular classrooms. We also have 28 students enrolled with us from economically weaker sections. The moment students don their uniforms, they are all equal." 
   According to Asha Singh, reader (department of child development), Lady Irwin College: "One's attitude and sensitivity towards the issue is of prime importance. We can't help just by physically accepting the child. There should be some amount of flexibility for them as well. For example, a visually impaired child should be made to sit in the front row so that he gets adequate light as well as attention." 
   A few government schools are also doing their bit. Navyug School, for instance, has included seven visually impaired students in its classrooms. Elaborates Neelam Kaushal, school principal: "Students accept their peers and help them willingly. But besides sensitising students, we conduct workshops for teachers as well, which is equally important."

Sunil Sharma


Dil Se Desi Group


No comments:

Post a Comment

Please Leave Your Precious Comments Here