DNIS News Network- Inclusive education is the only means of combating inequality and injustice, including those related to disabilities. This is the fundamental message that emerged from a two-day regional seminar on inclusive education held in Lahore on 16 and 17 May.
Over 400 participants deliberated on the theme of “Improving schools for social inclusion”. Experts from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka presented papers on different sub-themes of the seminar.
Javed Abidi, Executive Director, National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (N. C. P. E. D. P.), presented a paper, ‘Advocacy initiatives for inclusive education leading a policy to make education in India disabled friendly’, to share the Indian experience, and N. C. P. E. D. P.’s strategic advocacy campaign to successfully draw the government’s attention towards an inclusive education. The campaign had paved the way for the announcement of a comprehensive policy by the Ministry for Human Resource Development.
Other prominent participants included Dr. Anupam Ahuja, Dr. Vishna Narrang and Dr. Neerja Shukla from India, Dhanapala and Alwis from Sri Lanka, Diba Hossain from Bangladesh and Dr. Abdul Hameed, Dr. Hassan Sohaib Murad, Dr. Naseer-Ud-Din, Dr. Mehmood Awan, Dr. Salam Maqbool, Dr. Khalid Jamil, Debbie Kramer Roy and Khalid Naeem from Pakistan.
Recent policy initiatives, school in the changing scenario, examples of inclusive schools and challenges and opportunities for inclusive education were some of the topics discussed on the first day. On the second day the participants stressed on the need for inclusive education and reiterated that it would not only improve the quality of education but also eliminate inequality. Since the seminar was organised by University of Punjab’s Department of Special Education, Pakistan’s status in relation to disability and inclusive education came under the scanner. Participants from Pakistan made recommendations specific to the country.
Among various recommendations was the participants’ call for efforts on different forums such as S.A.A.R.C, A.S.E.A.N, O.I.C, etc. to initiate regional collaboration so that the experiences of individual countries can be shared at the regional level. They also suggested that U.N.E.S.C.O and U.N.I.C.E.F should provide technical assistance for the development of resource centres in each country of the region, and at the grassroots level they called for a better school-community relationship to usher maximum benefits of inclusive education.