Inclusive Education In India – Need, Concept, And Challenges
The aim of inclusive education (IE) is to educate children with disabilities and learning difficulties within the same classroom with other children.
It aims to maximize all students’ potential regardless of their strengths and weaknesses and bring them together in one classroom and community.
Tolerance and inclusion are among the most effective ways in which to promote a tolerant, inclusive society.
It is estimated that 73 million children of primary school age were out of school in 2010, down from a high of 110 million during the mid-1990s, according to new figures from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS).
About 80% of the Indian population lives in rural areas without equipment for special schools. It implies that there are an approximated 8 million children who are not attending school in India (MHRD 2009 statistics), the majority of whom are marginalized by various factors including poverty, gender, disability, or caste.
Today, what do we need to accomplish the goal of inclusive education?
In what ways will an inclusive environment benefit children with disabilities?
What is the most effective, efficient, and effective way to deliver quality education for all children?
In order to achieve universal access to education, inclusive schools must serve all the children in every community, and the government must manage the classrooms in which all children are included.
Keeping these questions in perspective, this article discusses the importance of inclusive education, its challenges, and measures to ensure that inclusive education is implemented effectively in India.
What Is Inclusive Education?
In many countries, school children with special needs are not accepted in mainstream schools.
These children are either having learning disabilities or, more frequently they belong to disadvantaged sections of society like the scheduled castes and tribes or other backward classes (OBCs).
They have limited access to education. In such cases, any education that is provided to these children is called ‘Inclusive Education’.
That means, these children are first identified by a screening process and then admitted to regular schools in a special class or unit.
The special teacher would assess their problems and provide necessary lessons to overcome them.
The schools will do whatever is necessary to ensure that the child with a disability completes her education alongside other students.
Need For Inclusive Education
By educating children with special needs in mainstream schools, we can ensure that these children get the opportunity to live their normal lives like other students.
They are also provided opportunities to develop autonomy and self-esteem, as well as skills necessary for daily living.
This provides a talent pool of skilled human resources that can be used to meet the future needs of society. For instance, a person with a hearing impairment can work as an operator in a bank that deals with deposits and withdrawal of money.
Similarly, a blind child can be provided opportunities in the computers field. Inclusive education also helps to create awareness about human rights and contribute to social justice.
In countries like India, where the literacy rate has reached 74%, more and more persons from unprivileged sections of society are getting educated.
In the same way, children with special needs are also becoming aware that they have equal rights to education like other children.
They also demand their right to be educated along with other students in regular schools. It is not an easy job to provide inclusive education in India because of various reasons.
Challenges of Inclusive Education
There are some challenges in providing inclusive education to children with special needs, which may be due to financial problems, lack of training facilities, and infrastructure.
But I think that the most important challenge is the mindset of teachers and parents towards these children. They have to understand that these children also have the right to get a proper education.
Teachers and school authorities should provide sufficient support facilities so that these children feel comfortable in the regular classrooms.
In India, we have 650 million young people whose future is dependent on how inclusive education will be provided to them and how their talents can be utilized for nation-building activities.
How To Implement An Inclusive Education System?
There are three major components of this inclusive education system. The first is to identify children who need special attention.
We should have a proper screening process through which we can recognize them as children with special needs. Only then, efforts can be made to provide them opportunities for learning in schools along with other students of their age.
Secondly, the teachers in schools should be trained to provide special education. Inclusion of shadow teachers where the schools lack in trained teachers is much needed.
The last but not the least component is that we have to give continuous support through which these children do not feel different from other students.
Successful Cases Of Inclusion In Indian Schools And Colleges
There are many successful stories of inclusion in India which prove that it is possible to educate a person with special needs along with other students.
Some Indian colleges also have full-fledged training facilities for disabled students, like the National Institute of Open Schooling.
This institute runs a course called ‘Life Enrichment Programme’ which offers courses on personality development, communication development, and mathematics.
It also conducts vocational training in fields like typing, bookbinding, cooking, and flower making for disabled students.
Similarly, there are other colleges that provide education to persons with disabilities.
Benefits Of Implementing A Successful Inclusion Plan For Students With Disabilities, Teachers, And The Community At Large Can Result In A More Inclusive Society.
Benefits To Students With Disabilities:
-Increased student/teacher interactions
-Opportunities to be involved in community activities such as field trips and other social events like dances, etc. that would not normally be accessible for school personnel who have traditional roles of being the “instructor”
-Opportunities to socialize with other students outside of school hours
-Increased opportunities for service-learning and community engagement could increase community awareness about diverse abilities and demystify disabilities.
Benefits To Teachers:
-Supports student success
-Increased support time for instruction
-Concrete goals for students with disabilities
-Increased opportunities for mentoring and coaching of general education teachers
-Opportunities to connect with students’ families, which can offer a great support system in addition to the school environment.
Benefits To The Overall Community:
-Equal access to quality education programs at all levels of schooling
-Employment opportunities for persons with disabilities which will offer increased social interaction
-Increased exposure to persons with disabilities, allowing for more positive attitudes about disability
-Respond effectively to meeting the needs of children and adults with disabilities in their communities.
Suggestions For Policy Changes That Can Promote Inclusion At All Levels Of Indian Education
-Increase government funding for inclusive schools and programs
-Implementing diversity awareness training to general teaching staff
-Providing increased support through enrichment activities, one-to-one assistance in the classroom, during after-school hours
-Allowing children to make choices about physical education and electives outside of the standard curriculum
-Making school policies more flexible to allow for a variety of learning styles that would facilitate individualized learning and allow students to be evaluated on individual performance.
-Providing increased access to assistive technology, such as computer software for spelling and math practice as well as classroom technologies like digital projectors, document cameras, etc.
-Creating inclusion committees that can be used to represent and advocate for the needs of students with disabilities in public schools, private schools, and colleges.
Summary: Indian educators are faced with a challenge to reverse years of exclusivity and adopt a philosophy of inclusion so as to ensure an appropriate education for all students, including those who have disabilities.
A Call To Action- What You Can Do To Help Make This Change Happen!
-If you are an individual with a disability, share your story and how it has been challenging or help you reach success
-Promote education within your own community through means such as media campaigns, volunteering at schools, or joining a parent/teacher association
-Advocate for increased government funding to support more inclusive programming at schools and colleges; participate in parent/teacher associations and attend school meetings
-Provide authentic opportunities for students with disabilities so that they are not limited to a “special education” role but rather a student who is taking part in activities on an equal basis as his or her peers.
-If you are a professional who works in Indian education, consider adding an element of inclusion to your programs and reflect on how you can shift the way you view disabilities, from being a connotation that one is “not as good” as others to instead being a shared experience
-Hold public forums or include this initiative in guided discussion at professional development sessions so that it will be spread to more schools
-If you are an administrator or member of a school board, be aware of the needs and views of your staff, get involved in local educational initiatives, and promote public awareness about inclusive opportunities that will benefit all students.
-Be aware and stand against bullying or derogatory language about anyone for any reason to help create a climate of acceptance
-If you are a professional who works in Indian education, consider adding an element of inclusion to your programs and share these experiences with others.
-Promote awareness of the importance of including everyone in educational opportunities, both for students and staff.
Summary: As stated by one parent whose child was included successfully at a school that was not previously inclusive, “Children should be able to go to school and play with other children.
If we give them a different status, they will feel bad about themselves, and it will affect their whole attitude toward life.”
Thus it is best for everyone if Indian education can take the steps necessary to widen the scope of opportunities that are available to its students.
Inclusive education is the need of today’s world where one out of every ten children gets born with special needs.
According to Census 2011, there are 19.6 million children with special needs in India, which accounts for 7.1% of the total population of the country.
Inclusion is a practice where students who cannot study in regular classrooms due to their different abilities and disabilities get equal opportunities for learning along with other students on an equal basis at schools and colleges.
This helps them integrate with mainstream society and also get trained to become an active citizen of the country.
So far, this article has been written about how India is dealing with children with special needs and, in particular, ‘Inclusive Education’. Inclusion is a much-talked topic these days across India as many young people are suffering
Now, it’s time for your opinion: How can India provide inclusive education to her children with special needs? What are its benefits? Write in the comments below!