- Article by Ms. Rakhee Nair (Head Information and Public Relations at Dr. S. Radhakrishnan International School, Malad
In a democratic country like India every child has the right to education. All children should be given equal opportunity to learn up to their optimum level of capacities. The modern educational system has to equip a classroom for all - an inclusive one, which encourages the children with and without disabilities, which meets the special educational and other related needs of children, irrespective of their caste, class, gender, physical and emotional challenges.
High quality education for all children is only possible if the system is able to provide meaningful curriculum, effective teaching by trained teachers and adequate support for each student. We must believe that all children can learn and that most of them can be included into regular education.
Inclusive education is an ideology and not a programme. It refers to an education system that accommodates all children regardless of their physical, intellectual, social, emotional, linguistic or other conditions. Inclusive Education is a process of increasing the participation of all students in school.
What is the need of inclusion?
Inclusive education is needed to provide equal educational opportunities to all disabled children in their own localities.
As far as standardized models of integration are concerned, one specialist teacher serves 8 to 10 children of the same category. This approach is not practical; therefore, the children have to depend on the general school for education. As a result inclusion is inevitable.
The extent of disability in each category ranges from mild to severe and profound cases. The mild and moderate cases are more in number than the severe and profound cases and they depend on the general education system. This calls for the involvement of general education so that the children who are currently left out of schools or those who are at risk can be served.
Inclusive education is not easy - but it is not impossible. The school management, staff and parents need to work hand in hand to ensure successful inclusion of the child in the system.
We at Bombay Cambridge Gurukul also faced difficulties in introducing inclusive education and continuing with it. There were various reasons why teachers found it difficult to manage special need students in their classroom, some of them were as follows:
• Had no information about the disability.
• Lack of knowledge in terms of what may help and hamper the student.
• Could not pay attention to other students in the class.
• Could not handle the behaviour problems.
• Found it difficult to finish portion.
• Took away a lot of their time and energy.
• There was extra work in terms of writing, reading, repeating etc.
• Fear of being seen in poor light if cannot handle students.
• Could not understand the “special needs” students.
However the Bombay Cambridge Gurukul management believed that – Students with special needs were gifted differently and Every Child has a Right to Education. And so the management took certain measures and also motivated the teachers and administrators to take certain measures.
Measures taken by Management were as follows:
• The CARE Centre with full time qualified professionals like Special Educator, Remedial Teacher and Counsellor.
• Willingness to introduce new procedures in the school system
• Willingness to make exceptions to rules.
• Provided support staff to manage children who were wheel-chair bound.
• Made changes in the physical infrastructure of the school (e.g. Arranged for western toilets, railings).
• Gave freedom to administrators to create possibilities.
Measures taken by Administrators were as follows:
• Willingness to break the old methods of teaching and evaluating.
• Willingness to follow through for all concessions/provisions.
• Supported to make modification in the system and curriculum, in order to benefit special needs students.
• Gave facility to the students to use lift.
• Provided support network for the CARE Centre, Parents and Students.
• Provided free access to parents.
• Provided support to parents to manage medical needs of the students.
Measures taken by the CARE Centre were as follows:
• Orientation to teachers, parents and administrators
• Assessment and Diagnosis
• Class Intervention
• Emotional support - for students, parents and teachers.
• Sharing of information with people concerned (other professionals).
• Partnership - all concerned people in the students life involved in the programme drawn.
Measures taken by Teachers were as follows:
• Changed their attitude towards special needs students.
• Made changes in their teaching methodology.
• Changed their evaluation pattern for these students.
• Set separate papers whenever required.
• Incorporated different correction pattern.
• Provided concessions and provisions wherever required.
• Sought help in dealing with students from Special Educators and Counsellors.
• Attended workshops and seminars to increase their information about the special needs students.
• In house faculty taught Work Experience subjects taken in lieu of exempted subjects.
Measures taken by Parents were as follows:
• Attended personal meetings with special educator or counsellor.
• Changed attitude; accepted that this child faced a challenge.
• Agreed for provisions and concessions granted.
• Worked in partnership with teachers and CARE Centre personnel.
• Followed plan, routine and advice given by teachers and CARE Centre personnel.
• Were available to speak to other parents of special needs children about the benefits of accepting and seeking professional help.
The result of all these measures taken is that-
- Learning disabled
- Slow learners
- Under achievers
- Differently abled
- Visually challenged
- Auditorily challenged
- Physically challenged
- and those with emotional and behavioural concerns
have been mainstreamed with success.
“It is not the children who are challenged..... but it is we who need to face the challenges of inclusive education.”