Differently-abled students can now study in regular schools
The Ministry of Human Resource Development is currently in the process of developing a Comprehensive Action Plan on inclusive education. From the next academic year, children with physical and mental disability can attend regular schools.
Owing to lack of knowledge, educational access and technology, disabled children were initially treated as unwanted and segregated from other children. Later their education was carried out in special schools. In recent times there has been a shift towards having children with disabilities attend the same schools as non-disabled children. From the next academic year, children with physical and mental disability with nonaggressive behaviour can attend regular schools.
Officials of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) disclosed this to presspersons here on Wednesday. MHRD has directed state's Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) officials to ensure that differently-abled children are able to avail education along with normal children in a regular school. According to SSA, there are 1, 25,251 children with special needs in the state. This includes children with disabilities such as poor vision, cerebral palsy, mental and other forms of disabilities.
Currently, under SSA, children with severe physical and mental disabilities are being educated at their homes. Two SSA volunteers go to the house of such children twice a week to teach them life skills and impart basic education. SSA officials said not all differently-abled children were aggressive. Thus, the official said, steps should be taken to let such students study along with normal children. The official added that the recommendation would be implemented from the next academic year.
The SSA will provide necessary support for physically challenged children in reaching schools. The SSA official informed that MHRD had directed them to give home based education to only those disabled children who have aggressive behaviour. The official said there were cases where parents refuse to send their children to schools although they had minimal disability. The official added that they could not force such parents to send their ward to schools. He said if any incident happened, the parents were likely to blame the school authorities.
The concept of inclusive education has been spelt out in the Salamanca statement and the framework for action on special needs education 1994. It states that all governments have been urged to "adopt as a matter of law or policy, the principle of inclusive education, enrolling all children in regular schools unless there are compelling reasons for doing otherwise". The basic premise is that the school should meet the educational needs of all children irrespective of their disabilities or limitations.
Implementation of the `policy and process' allows all children to participate in all programmes. Inclusive education goes one step further by defining these children as `children with special needs' who need special attention, rather than children who are `impaired' or `handicapped'. Inclusive education is nothing but `Making the programme for disabled children as an integral part of the general educational system rather than a system within general education'.