‘In­dian schools ill-pre­pared for chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties’

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - Nation - Pra­sun Son­walkar pra­sun.son­walkar@hin­dus­tan­times.com

LONDON: In­dia has one of the strong­est dis­abil­ity-in­clu­sive ed­u­ca­tional frame­works in the world, and en­rol­ment rates are in the rise in many states, but a new re­port by the Univer­sity of Cam­bridge says schools re­main ill pre­pared to ef­fec­tively in­clude chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties.

The re­port ti­tled In­clu­sive Qual­ity Ed­u­ca­tion for Chil­dren With Dis­abil­i­ties is au­thored by Nidhi Sin­gal and Han­nah Ware (Cam­bridge) and Sh­weta Khanna Bhutani (Delhi Univer­sity).

There has been an ap­prox­i­mately 16% in­crease in the num­ber of chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties en­rolled in main­stream pri­mary schools over the last five years, but the re­port says they are most likely to be ex­cluded. “They are also most likely to drop out be­fore com­plet­ing five years of pri­mary school­ing and are least likely to tran­si­tion to sec­ondary school or higher ed­u­ca­tion,” said Sin­gal, reader in ed­u­ca­tion at Cam­bridge.

“Coun­tries, both de­vel­oped and de­vel­op­ing economies, need to do more to en­sure that chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties not only ac­cess ed­u­ca­tion, but also ben­e­fit from qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion,” she added.

The re­port says while strong poli­cies and pro­grammes ex­ist in re­la­tion to the ed­u­ca­tion of chil­dren with special needs, there con­tin­ues to be a large num­ber of chil­dren who re­main out of school. It highlights four fac­tors es­sen­tial to achieve in­clu­sive ed­u­ca­tion in In­dia — train­ing of main­stream teach­ers, the im­por­tance of special ed­u­ca­tors, the use of cost-ef­fec­tive teach­ing aids and adap­ta­tions to the school in­fra­struc­ture, and supporting chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties in main­stream school. “Ev­i­dence from the field notes low lev­els of con­fi­dence and lack of clar­ity among main­stream teach­ers in re­la­tion to teach­ing chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties. While teach­ers don’t nec­es­sar­ily have neg­a­tive at­ti­tudes, poor in­fra­struc­ture, large class sizes, lack of para-pro­fes­sional staff, lack of com­pe­tence, and aca­demic achieve­ment are chal­lenges ex­pe­ri­enced by them to­ward in­clu­sion of chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties,” the re­port says.

HT FILE/KALPAK PATHAK

The re­port says while strong poli­cies ex­ist in re­la­tion to ed­u­ca­tion of chil­dren with special needs, there con­tin­ues to be a large num­ber of chil­dren who re­main out of school.

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