A fundamental right, every child must be entitled to quality education. This basic right comes irrespective of discrimination based on nationality, religion, gender, caste, social origin, mental disorder or physical disability. It is only fair that every child receives an equal opportunity to enjoy a healthy environment of learning. These aspects point towards the importance of inclusive education.
The importance of inclusive education is soon gaining momentum. As the name suggests, it involves the inclusion of children with special needs and disabilities within regular classrooms. Inclusive education ensures that these children learn in a regular environment and enjoy the company of other children. Children can genuinely adapt to community life and grow to adapt well. It helps them face life with confidence as they evolve into bright citizens of the country. While it is accepted that all children can receive inclusive education, there are roadblocks that continue to prevail.
Let us look at some of the barriers to inclusive education in India,
Discriminative Attitude –According to Wothappen Perhaps most prevalent, a major part of society continues to discriminate against specially-abled children. People often do not want to interact with children or individuals with disabilities. This attitude is typically an effect of old bias and thoughts that such persons cannot live and enjoy regular rights. This mindset has to change. It is important for strong advocacy against discrimination. People must be made aware, as quite often, there is a lack of understanding on how disabled children must be treated.
Fortunately, the prevalence of this attitude is blurring owing to consistent awareness programs that are run by different organisations.
Infrastructural Shortcomings – The Indian infrastructure greatly lacks the elements to maintain an inclusive environment. Most schools, parks, washrooms and higher educational institutions do not support the requirements of disabled kids. These children find it extremely difficult to conduct daily activities owing to a lack of ramps, railings or seating arrangements. Fixing these basic requirements is a great step in establishing the importance of inclusive education.
Inefficient technology – The technological facilities available are often not enough to aid the needs of children with different intellects. The Assistive Technology (AI) available is not very advance. This leaves specially-abled children with a lack of means to participate in different community affairs. More importantly, we live in a world where technology is growing to become a major part of our daily life. It makes it more imperative for technology to be able to empower the actions of every child.
Centralised Curriculum – The Indian educational curriculum is centralised to a great extent. It does not cater to the varied specifications of different children. The rigid approach with a lack of flexibility makes it difficult for differently-abled children to cope. There is certainly a need for modification in the approaches used for teaching.
Lack of Funding – Lack of funding is a chief factor that impedes the development of inclusive education in the country. There is scarcity in terms of the available resources such as classrooms, learning material, teaching faculty and more. Differently-abled children, especially those from lower backgrounds, cannot effectively seek development opportunities. Several times, the lack of available facilities lead to these children having to make do with their environment with no education.
Inadequate Policies – The policies that do not support the importance of inclusive education pose a significant barrier. Schools and education institutions often ignore the requirements of specially-abled children. Though there is substantial progress that’s been done in this direction, but there’s still a long way to go. There must be stringent policies put in place to ensure that the needs of every child are served within the educational sector.
Lack of Sensitive Teachings – Children’s minds are believed to be like mouldable clay. They often do not understand how to behave appropriately until well thought out. Insensitive remarks, ragging and more create a difficult environment for children with lesser abilities. This is why it is very important to sensitise children towards the needs of their peers. Parents and teaching faculties must take it upon themselves to ensure inclusive behaviour among children from all sections of society. Children watch and learn. Thus, they must be exposed to the right behaviour to become a citizen who promotes inclusivity in every walk of life.
As the nation moves on to greater paths of development, it is extremely important to stay aware of the barriers causing hindrance in promoting inclusive education. The educational system has to be closely analysed to understand what are the factors that take away from the inclusive factor within mainstream schools.
Children with special intellectual requirements generally have to obtain an education while being put on the side-lines. This deprives them of the opportunity to learn and thrive within an inclusive environment. They often end up lacking the essential social and interactive abilities required to carry on their life. While the world is evolving to ensure that every child freely grows within a secure realm, we too must strive to eliminate the barriers of inclusive education.
Inclusive education for one, inclusive education for all.