Dr. Sulata Shenoy, Director, Turning Point, Bangalore, www.turningpointcentre.com
Every parent has hopes and dreams for their child, and often these can be shattered when the child gets diagnosed with Learning Disability. Often the L.D. child has difficulty at school not only in reading, comprehension, writing, oral and written expression, languages and mathematics but also social and emotional behavioral issues all of which may result in low self esteem. Inclusion in education is an approach to educating students with special needs. Inclusive education differs from previously held notions of integration and mainstreaming, which implied slow learners becoming ‘ready for’ or ‘deserving of’ accommodation by regular school. By contrast, inclusion is about the child’s right to participate and the school’s duty to accept the child. A premium is placed upon full participation by students with disabilities and upon respect for their social, civil, and educational rights.
Let us examine few official policies regarding Inclusive Education over the years:
- The Indian Equal Opportunities and Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act of 1995 rule 26 emphasised the education of children with disabilities upto the age of 18 years in an appropriate environment.
- According to Rule 6 of the UN Standard Rules for Persons with Disabilities1993, states should recognize the principle of equal primary, secondary and tertiary educational opportunities for children in integrated settings. Education for persons with disabilities should form an integral part of national educational planning, curriculum development and school organization.
- The Salamanca Statement in 1994 stated that every child has a fundamental right to education and that the system should be designed and program implemented by taking into account the child’s diverse interests, needs, abilities and learning needs.
- Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India in September, 2012 approved of several inclusions and privileges in Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill which has yet to become law.
Education of children with learning disabilities has always posed a challenge to educators. The educational options for children with L.D. include the entire range from full exclusion to full inclusion. In between those vastly different choices are programs with varying levels of support to the student. The different dimensions of Inclusive Education are:
- Creating inclusive cultures: Tolerance and acceptance of differences between students
- Producing inclusive policies: Policy makers to frame clear guidelines for implementation
- Evolving inclusive practices: How to put these in practices in large classrooms, multi grade schools, urban/rural settings, etc.
As long as we see the child as a problem, we will not be able to make any headway. We need to understand the problems in the educational system and remove the learning barriers to ensure that every child is fully included in our schools and learns to the best of his/her capacity.