Inclusive Education

Theory

Inclusion of the mentally/physically handicapped into the mainstream is an espoused goal of the "World Declaration on Education for All" and refers to creating opportunities for them to participate in the mainstream of life to whatever extent possible and with all the variety available to "normal" persons with varied interests and abilities. It also includes the idea of "integrating" persons with different abilities/disabilities into the education establishment.

Adarsh fully supports the view that Inclusive Education for the children with challenges is the most desirable form of schooling. However, keeping in view three important aspects , namely

  1. Degree of disability varies from child to child and almost all of them need some amount of therapy and medical attention to become able to join a mainstream school and profit there from, without physical and psychological adjustment problems. Therefore, even for those who can join a mainstream school, "a transition period", during which they are mentally and physically prepared, is necessary and this is what Adarsh attempts to provide.
  2. We also recognize the fact in the Indian context, particularly in schools which children from the economically not well -off sections attend, facilities for children with challenges are woefully inadequate with very little scope for allowing them to develop their latent talents, whether they are ordinary or extraordinary. Even the elite among these schools today lack infrastructural facilities like ramps and lifts, appropriate facilities in toilets, proper eating places and for therapy for such special children. The approach of society in general to accommodate children with disability in the mainstream schools is far from helpful, parents of "normal"children being nagged by the fear of fall in academic standards by such a mixture.
  3. There are children who cannot undergo the rigours of "normal" academic education, particularly with insistence on qualifying in certain minimum number of subjects, all simultaneously .It is for such children that Adarsh has introduced studies under the National Institute of Open Schooling upto the 10th standard. The first batch of 5 students appeared for the 10th standard examination in March 2010, each in 4 subjects. 5 have passed in all 4 subjects .Such "compartmental attempt " is permitted only under the NIOS and that is why it is ideally suited for children like those in Adarsh. In 2011 they will appear for the balance one paper.

Inclusion in Practice

In the last 8 years, over 50 children left Adarsh to pursue their studies in mainstream schools. At the end of the academic year 2009-10, a total of 9 children left Adarsh, a record for Adarsh. This number includes 3 children affected by Autism , also for the first time in Adarsh. .One of those , who joined a mainstream school passed the 10th Standard examination in 2006, availing of the exemptions and special facilities allowed for his disability. Adarsh entrusted to Bharata Matha College of Social Studies, a well known educational institution in Kochi, a study to be conducted on various aspects of this phenomenon of children going to mainstream schools. This study was conducted by a group headed by a senior faculty member of that college, Fr. Prince assisted by Sr. Beena. The study was conducted on 23 students who had left Adarsh by December 2005 and were studying in mainstream schools.

The major findings of the study are summarized as follows:

Majority of the surveyed children were studying in lower primary classes. This shows that early identification of disability and early intervention programmers enable children to enter mainstream schools, which is the most preferred situation.

The children absorbed into mainstream schools showed improvement in 3 areas namely, Self Care, Social Behaviour and Scholastic Performance, which can be attributed to their stint in Special Schools in early years. Among the respondents, improvement in self care was shown by over 90% of the students, more than 85% show high improvement in Social Behaviour and over 70% of them show high improvement in Scholastic performance.

Family members of disabled children showed high level of participation in mainstreaming activities as also the teachers.

Case 1 - Surumi

Case 2 - Akhil Babu

Case3 - Sen Kumar Soni

So the importance of a Special School like Adarsh cannot be understated, because such flexibility required for the comprehensive rehabilitation of the child cannot be expected in the rigid structure of a mainstream school, where emphasis is laid on academic training alone. In the Indian context, such flexibility is not available in mainstream schools, even in those which are considered to be providing Inclusive education. Months before the close of an academic session, teachers and parents discuss the possibility of a child moving to mainstream schools and the parents are advised to look for a suitable school. Occasionally it has been found necessary for our teachers, and at times, the Principal/Chief Coordinator also, to visit a mainstream school and convince the authorities there of the practicability of admitting the child to their school and of what special assistance would be required for that child at least in the initial stages.