Inclusive education is the most effective way to give all children a fair chance to go to school, learn and develop the skills they need to thrive. It means all children in the same classroom and in the same school with equal learning opportunities despite their disabilities or languages they speak. Inclusive education system values the unique contributions students of all backgrounds bring to the classroom and allow diverse groups to grow side by side, to the benefit of all—children, parents, society, and country at large.
Inclusive education is about ensuring access to quality education for all students by effectively meeting their diverse needs in a way that is responsive, receptive, respectful and supportive. Students participate in the education program in a common learning environment with support to diminish and remove barriers and obstacles that may lead to exclusion.
The latest provision in the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020, approved by India’s Union Cabinet in July 2020, encourages, and promotes “Barrier-free access to Education for all Children with Disabilities.” India’s first Education Policy was initially established in 1986 and last revised in 1992. Since then, India needed a change in its entire Education Policy. The New Education Policy describes the much-awaited new reforms that India was looking for. These adaptations are designed with special consideration for children with impairments and those from low-income families. The focus of this new rule’s implementation is on two things– Imparting knowledge and training faculties on how to teach children with specific disabilities. These norms are made keeping in mind the Right of Persons with Disability Act-2016 to provide barrier-free education to children with disability. According to the NEP, children with disabilities will be able to participate equally in all aspects of the educational system.
The major challenge this system faces is the progress of children at a slow pace. All students are different and therefore have different individual needs. Similarly, children with different disabilities have differing needs. Hence, it is important to choose the right type of inclusive education for the students based on their individual needs, and to get appropriate outcomes, the inclusive education system requires amendments at all levels of society, especially at the level of school and teaching instructors. The first and foremost requirement is the teachers’ training. The instructors or teachers dealing with special children must be well trained as per the needs of the children. Thus, under the New Education Policy, a provision has been made that all teacher education programmes must include instruction on how to teach children with specific impairments. Ensuring the inclusion and equal participation of children with disabilities, the students will be enabled to fully participate in the regular schooling process from the foundational stage to higher education.
The Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act 2016 defines inclusive education as a ‘system of education wherein students with and without disabilities learn together and the system of teaching and learning is suitably adapted to meet the learning needs of different types of students with disabilities’. This Policy is in complete consonance with the provisions of the RPWD Act 2016 and endorses all its recommendations with regard to school education. Barrier free access for all children with disabilities will be enabled as per the RPWD Act.
School buildings must be refurbished and schools will be supported for providing all children with disabilities accommodations and support mechanisms tailored to suit their needs and to ensure their full participation and inclusion in the classroom. In particular, assistive devices and appropriate technology-based tools, as well as adequate and language-appropriate teaching-learning materials (e.g., textbooks in accessible formats such as large print and Braille) will be made available to help children with disabilities integrate more easily into classrooms and engage with teachers and their peers.
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