Equal Education for the Disabled
About 12 million children are living with disabilities in India today. Only 1% of these children have access to school, and the few that do usually don’t go beyond basic education. Most people with disabilities in India don’t live past the age of 40, and very few are employed.
Schooling for these kids is a major issue. Under the Persons with Disabilities Act, children with disabilities are to be provided free education by the government and be put in special schools that cater expressly to their needs. In addition, the government is required to make non-formal education programs for children with disabilities that help attain literacy, rejoin normal schools, and help them find vocational training for jobs. Teachers are also supposed to be specially trained to educate and see to the needs of children with disabilities.
Due to the 2009 Right to Education Act, disabled children are now being forced into social inclusion, and with special education centers closing, they are now being put into mainstream school whether they are ready or not. The teachers in these schools don’t have the proper training to help disabled children, the curriculum is often inflexible, and many of these kids are bullied until they give up and drop out of these schools.
The Inclusion Initiative
Inclusion, if properly implemented, can be a great thing. The philosophy behind inclusive education is to promote opportunities for all children to participate, learn and be treated equally, regardless of their mental or physical abilities. Very few children with disabilities continue on to higher education. Inclusion schools, where the children are all mixed can help these children go farther with their education. These schools can also help children with disabilities learn valuable social skills. According to Dr. Mithu Alur, founder of the Spastics Society of India and coordinator at the National Resource Centre for Inclusion (NRCI), “Children need to be with other children. Sending them to a school for disabled will not help.” The Indian government’s new education program, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan aims at improving and providing quality primary education for all children, including special needs children, and will help provide better trained teachers able to handle the needs of all kids.
With the spread of inclusion, proper teachers, a more flexible curriculum, and a more welcoming school community, more and more disabled children will able to go to school and get a proper education that will help them become a part of society.[Image Attribute: Pixabay]