Education for special needs children has been quite debatable in India. Though we have presence of special schools the numbers are far less than what we need. But it’s also a known fact that inclusive education is the right way of inculcating skills among special needs children. The acceptance of disabled children is more efficient when there is a presence of inclusive education. Most of the schools in India understand this aspect. However, the ground realities are very much different than what we think.
Even after knowing most of the schools in India have not accepted inclusive education. The schools deny this but reality is far stretched from what is claimed. In general, schools deny admission to special needs children forcing parents to search for special schools.
Why is it so and what benefits are derived from this form of education?. Lets’ dive through some details and understands why now more thrust is given in having an inclusive education system in India.
What is Inclusive Education?
Before we look at its importance lets understand what inclusive education is all about. Inclusive education is a concept of studying in school where special children and students study together. Contrary to this in a special school only children with specific disabilities study. But Inclusive education is not only about sharing a common infrastructure. Under this education system special needs children get engaged in different activities of the school. But to make this form of education a success the school staff, teachers, administrators, parents and kids all of them have to consider this concept.
Why Inclusive Education Is important?
Inclusive education is not only about education together. It’s a way of life where special needs children learn to grow with developing children. When the education is different like studying in special schools then it translates into the development difference. The developing children fail to understand special needs children and look upon them with a difference. Inclusive education tries to bridge this gap. Through this form of education the children becomes more understandable towards each other. In longer term this brings acceptance of special needs children in the society much simpler.
How Inclusive Education benefits?
There are many benefits of inclusive education which are neglected by many schools. Illustrated below are some of these benefits :
- Learning Together: The benefits of coeducation we all know. It helps in children of both gender learning with each other and developing a better understanding. With inclusive education too the children learn within their own capacity. But more than the subject or books it’s the learning environment which helps them more. This learning is absent in a special school education.
- Thinking Positively: Children’s are good learners. When they experience diversity they are more knowledgeable and they learn respect . Inclusive education does exactly the same. It shows the children how some people are different and what is similar. When the children grow with this learning the respect among each other is created and there is better understanding.
- Making New Friends: School is a place where children learn important skills and develop friendship. The school is a place where socially children learn to grow. Under inclusive education the children with and without disabilities play and learn from each other.
- Learning Academic Skills: Children with and without disabilities learn to write, read and learn. The arrangement is highly beneficial for the families with special needs children.
- Fulfilling Family Dream Or Visions: All parents wish their child can learn, grow and live in a healthy environment. Though special schools are there they lack developing a better understanding among each other. Inclusive education fulfills those dreams or visions which a special needs parent wish to achieve.
Inclusive Education In India
In India the the thrust on inclusive education has been missing. The lack of support, understanding of this method of education has impacted the growth of inclusive education. Many reasons can be attributed to this aspect. The first and foremost is that not many school are equipped with enough resources to go for inclusive education. Visit to schools have highlighted lack of special educators. In fact Mainstream teachers in lot of schools lack understanding of education for special needs children.
The other reason to worry is the curriculum for special needs children. There is no standard curriculum yet which can help students with disabilities stay in the mainstream education. Then, the examination system which we witness today actually belong to the British education system. It has quite tough assessments which may may be good for developing children but its too rigid for special needs children. What we need is an efficient assessment system along with tools and technologies to accommodate special needs children in mainstream education.
Having said that, there are good things happening for inclusive education system. Recently the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has decided to set up an inclusion panel for children with special needs. The Board has asked all schools to form school inclusion committees. This committee will include the school counsellor, special educators and teachers’ representative with the school principal as the head. All issues related to school admissions, classroom placements, curriculum transaction, exemptions in examinations etc. will be addressed by the committee. As per CBSE this committee will act as a facilitator for promoting inclusive education in schools and area around. It will also work towards raising awareness among public on quality, discrimination and any kind of harassment towards special needs child. This in my view is a great step for bringing inclusive education in India.
Giving child the best of education is any parent dream. For special needs children families this vision is more important. Though special needs school have their own advantages the inclusive education system is where fulfillment of this vision lies. In India we have just made a beginning.