D.N.I.S. News Network-In a development that promises to usher in a brave new world for the school education in the country and mark the first serious step towards larger goal of social and economic inclusion of over 70 million people with disabilities, the Government held a National Convention on finalisation of A National Policy on inclusive education
The draft of the policy was presented before a distinguished gathering of leaders from India's disability sector and professionals from the field of education at a National Consultation in New Delhi.
This is the tenth year of the passage of the Disability Act, and a moment of contemplation and stock taking for people with disabilities on the poor showing that successive governments have made in implementation of the provisions of the Act.
Stressing on the need for a policy, the Draft said: “Despite efforts over the past three decades by the government and the non-government sector, educational facilities need to be made available to a substantial proportion of persons with disability. Many children with disabilities are still denied any form of education.
As per Census 2001, compared to the National literacy figure of around per cent the literacy level of the disabled population is only 49 per cent. Literacy rates for the disabled female population is around 37 per cent as compared to the national average of over 54 per cent for the female population. Literacy rates for the disabled male population is 58.14 per cent as compared to 75.85 per cent for males.”
In its broadest and all encompassing meaning, inclusive education, as an approach, the Draft adds, seeks to address the learning needs of all children, youth and adults with a specific focus on those who who are vulnerable to marginalisation and exclusion. It implies that all learners, young people – with or without disabilities - being able to learn together through access to common pre-school provisions, schools and community educational setting with an appropriate network of support services.
The focus for the Policy intervention is the inclusion of children and youth with disabilities in general educational institutions. The intervention is in continuation with the efforts of the Government of India towards an Inclusive Education system that provides a conducive and relevant learning environment by accepting the diversity of its client group and adapting to their individual needs.
The Draft Plan proposes to concurrently focus on enrollment of children and youth with disabilities and creating an enabling educational environment to support the inclusion process through review and adaptations in curricula, capacity building among various groups ranging from policy makers to education administrators, teachers and parents groups. Pre-service and in-service training of mainstream school teachers will be a prime focus with the disability component included in all teachers training programme.
The Draft is an outcome of public consultation, and a process of interdepartmental consultations was started by the Ministry. The National Consultation was convened in collaboration with National Institute for Education Planning and Administration (N.I.E.P.A.), and brought together participants from the Government Departments, N.G.O.s, professionals from academic bodies and universities, and other stakeholders.
National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People has been in the forefront in seeking regional and national consensus on the Action Plan by bringing together stakeholders, professionals and activists together. For this it has organised three Zonal Consultations, in Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, and it plans to hold a national meet in the National Capital.