By: Renu Chahal*
India will continue to have diverse options available for education, including homeschooling and special schools. But should that be a reason to deny access to general schools for children with disabilities?
Education is our fundamental right. Nationally and Internationally many initiatives enhance the education standard and ensure affordability and accessibility. However, Inclusive vs Special education has seen a fair amount of debate. Special education prioritizes children with disabilities. Inclusive education focuses on all kinds of children on their development and empowerment. Inclusive education provides a platform where all kinds of students connect with each other.
Let’s focus on inclusive education and related journey here.
What is Inclusive Education?
Inclusive education is an approach that welcomes all kinds of students regardless of their limitations and strengths (Singh, 2016).
Inclusive education is about accepting and working with diversity. Diversity could be in form of faith, caste, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, disability, and so on. Diversity helps in preparing the mindsets of students to connect with others and thrive in an evolving world.
How did India progress towards Inclusive Education?
Here, we are looking at education within the context of schooling. Do remember that all education does not take place at school. Historically, India has had two types of schooling systems: One, regular/general/mainstream school. Second, special school. This system divided our society into two mindsets. Accordingly, without much argument, everyone accepted it. But the concept of inclusive education also emerged.
At the global level, the Salamanca Statement of 1994 came with a big declaration on inclusive education and 92 nations accepted this (Sharma, 2018). In India, different kinds of schemes, programs, and legislation have been passed by the government to make inclusive education a progressive reality. Here is a quick timeline:
- New Education Policy 1968, propagated all levels of inclusive education.
- 1971, the program of integration launched with special schools and regular schools.
- New Education Policy 1986 promoted inclusive education at all schools (government and private ).
- The Rights To Education 2009 Act provides equal rights to gain education where they want.
- The Right to Person with Disabilities Act 2016 provides strength to inclusive education (Sharma, 2018).
- New Education Policy 2020 emphasizes on inclusive education at all levels of the education system (NEP 2020).
Why Inclusive Education?
Disability is common. Every country, over the years, started various programs working on the rights of persons with disabilities (Astha, Smirti. 2012). Every child has a right to gain an education where they want. In inclusive schools, diverse children meet each other and develop their social connections. Inclusive schools provide an emphatic phenomenon and help to understand diversity.
- An inclusive school is a space for everyone, including children with disabilities.
- It helps to create an awareness that being different is okay.
- It helps to understand that every child has an equal right to gain their education where they want.
- A child explores different parts of their identities with their diversity. They get opportunities to grow in a friendly environment, and with the help of peers and teachers.
- Inclusive education helps to recognize the characteristics and circumstances of different people.
- Inclusive education ensures the respect of every person.
Every child has a right to attain an education. Hence, inclusive education is a good approach and initiative for all kinds of students. They meet and introduce themselves to different children with various backgrounds. Changes brought by the New Education Policy will hopefully further support inclusive education in India.
About Ginny’s Planet:
Ginny’s Planet is a social enterprise Co-founded by Dr. Shweta Verma in 2019. The brand runs on the core value of helping our teachers and parents to teach their children to become independent, smart, and better leaders by equipping them with a deep understanding of empathy, diversity, disability, and inclusion. Dr. Shweta and the team design events, workshops, and products to help guardians & schools to develop kids’ mindsets and evolve as adaptive and flexible human beings. They work with schools and NGOs to organize workshops for children and teachers.
- Sharma, T. (2018). Reflection on Current Status of Inclusive Education in India, International Journal of Culture Society. Vol.2 ISSN:2456-6683.
- Singh, J.D. (2016). Inclusive Education in India – Concept, Need, and Challenges. Scholarly Research Journal for Humanity Science & English Language. Vol.1.3/13 www.srjis.com
- Panigrahi, S., & Malik, N. (2020). A Roadmap to Inclusive Education in NEP 2020. Vol-10 No-3 ISSN: 2278-4632.
- Chauhan, N., & Mantry, A. (2018). Inclusive Education: Need of The Day. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Invention (IJHSSI). Vol.7 No.10. Ver2.pp 24.32. www.ijhssi.org.
*Renu was an intern at Ginny’s Planet from 1 Sept to 31 Dec 2022. She has completed her MA (Social Work) and is a research scholar from the Department of Social Work, at Bhagat Phool Singh Mahila Vishwavidyalaya, Sonipat, Haryana.