India is a diverse country, and while unity in diversity signifies the spirit of the nation and one needs to make sure the cohesiveness is not superficial and is practised. Therefore, inclusivity is one of the significant social challenges in front of India. Education is one of those sectors where education needs to be the most inclusive. Nearly one-fourth of the world population comprises school-going children, who have the responsibility of taking the country to newer heights. Inclusive education refers to the inclusion of everyone and the one that can provide for the needs of Children with Disabilities.
India has asserted its commitment to inclusive education at several global platforms and has shown the intent by agreeing to the Self Development Goals (SDGs) and the UNESCO Salamanca Statement. India is a signatory to the Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and has committed itself to inclusiveness in all spheres. The government is promoting inclusivity in India at several levels. One school aligned with the national objective is Orchids- The International School in Hyderabad.
Designated Staff For Children With Special Needs
The school accepts children with special needs and makes sure that those needs are carefully attended to. The school provides designated staff for children with special needs, who monitors the progress of every child and help them grow comprehensively. While speaking to The Logical Indian, Aruna Rao Naidnur, the Principal of Orchids- The International School, says, "We have a Department of Counselling, and a Department of Special Education, which is being monitored by Mumbai and Bangalore centres. Apart from that, all the school branches have special educators and behavioural counsellors based on the number of students in every school".
While speaking to The Logical Indian about the needs of children with disabilities, Naidnur said, "We ensure that the children, especially the children with disabilities and special needs, are not 'specially' treated elsewhere. We have seen several cases of improvement amongst our students since they joined us. Moreover, the parents are not worried about whether the child has to be academically number one; they only want the child to be at par with the rest. I have a child in grade six who had joined us three years ago with very aggressive behaviour and ADHD and would not maintain eye contact. The child initially maintained stern behaviour with the teachers, but then he was closely monitored by the special educator and behavioural counsellor. Today the child writes blogs!".
75% Children With Disabilities Do Not Attend Any Institute For Education
Initially, when the school began in 2002, they did not have such a facility. However, they realized that children with special needs need to be included more often in society, and the change could happen only if somebody took the initiative. Eventually, they began to cater for all children, with or without special needs, making it one of the foundational stones of inclusivity for the upcoming generations. It is unfortunate and surprising to know that 75 per cent of children with disabilities in India do not attend any educational institution in their lifetimes, a UN Report mentioned.
How Did The Parents React Initially?
In most cases that hamper the child's development, the principal mentioned, parents outrightly deny that their child has some disability. She said, "First thing is denial; they come up saying that there is nothing wrong with the child and try to blame it on the teacher. However, when we go with the medical history and try to see and send it to prescribed centres for checkups, the actual revelation leads the parents into a state of shock. They often cry and feel that their child's disability is some sin that has happened in their life". The school has provisions for handling such extreme situations by providing counselling to the parents and tries to reinforce that each of the children is unique in their manner.
The counsellors try to make the parents understand that every child is born with their strengths and flaws. Naidnur said, "We try to strengthen the strengths of the children with disabilities, and for that, we have a specialized team that works for them. The special educators, behavioural counsellors, and the rest of the counselling team closely monitor, check. When they see progress in the child, the school tries to wean away from giving that special attention to the child, and include them into mainstream education."
When asked about how the rest of the children adjust and accept that some of their classmates have specific special needs, Naidnur said, "In the beginning, it is a little tricky. We sensitize the children and make them understand how important it is to accept their classmates. There are two kinds of cases in children with special needs: either they are aggressive or regressive. To an extent, it is easier to manage aggression, but regression is more challenging. We try to build a rapport amongst all the children by participating in group activities. For instance, on Independence Day, everyone participated in the celebration together. "
Different Activities For All Children
When asked about the kind of activities that the school makes the children do, the principal told The Logical Indian, "Firstly, we have interactive classrooms for those children. On any regular day, they have certain timings, in which they leave their regular classrooms and come into these interactive classrooms. There are things like clay and sand, along with other toys kept. One such activity was when we asked the children to tear apart pieces of paper and then rearrange them. The activity increased their patience levels and improved their analytical skills".
Inclusive education (IE) is a new approach towards educating children with disability and learning difficulties with normal ones within the same roof. It seeks to address the learning needs of all children with a specific focus on those who are vulnerable to marginalization and exclusion. This is possible only in an inflexible education system that assimilates a diverse range of learners and adapts itself to meet these needs.