D.N.I.S. News Network -The third regional consultative meeting, for the East and North East Zone was held in Kolkata on 30 July, to forge a roadmap to implement the ‘Comprehensive Plan of Action on Inclusive Education for Children and Youth with Disabilities.’ All participants emphasised the need for a monitoring mechanism to ensure effective implementation of the Comprehensive Action Plan. The event was organised by National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People, (N.C.P.E.D.P.) in association with Loreto Day School, Sealdah.
The meeting was well attended by government officials, educationists and senior leadership from the disability sector from West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram Tripura and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
The Comprehensive Plan of Action was discussed and issues that were focused upon included, teacher training and sensitisation, curriculum, access and disabled friendly examination system.
The meeting was initiated by Sister Cyril, Principal, Loreto Day School, Sealdah, who said, ‘It is not the child who is disabled but the system.’ Poonam Natarajan, Director, Vidya Sagar, said that ‘Inclusive Education is about a systemic change not only for children with special needs but for all children.’ M.V. Jose, Representative, A.I.F.O., said that ‘Inclusion is not a concession or a charity but a right of every individual.’
Dr. Anupam Basu, Head, Department of Computer Science, Indian Institute of Technology (I.I.T.) Kharagpur, highlighted the fact that there was no mention of the role of technology in Inclusive Education. I.I.T. Kharagpur is developing educational tools. However, development of assistive devices faces bottlenecks, as the development of assistive technology is not a part of mainstream engineering curriculum. There is also no marketing for the assistive devices.
A general consensus was reached on the need to improve awareness levels of educational facilities available for people with disabilities.