Academic journal article International Journal of Education and Management Studies

Integrated Education for Children with Special Needs in India: Awareness and Future Challenges

Academic journal article International Journal of Education and Management Studies

Integrated Education for Children with Special Needs in India: Awareness and Future Challenges

Article excerpt

The need of special education in India can he traced hack to pre-independent India. There are many examples in Indian history that show that people with disabilities had educational opportunities and that disability did not come in the way of learning. However, during the colonial period, India increasingly looked at educational models existing outside the country (Ministry of Law & Justice, 2009). Parents of children with disabilities started schools for their children, mainly from urban areas and with exposure to approaches prevalent in western countries. Since the government had no policy on the education of children with disabilities, it extended grants to these private schools (Ahamad, 2012).

This approach of setting up separate schools, mostly residential, spread across the country, much of them concentrated in urban areas. For over a century, these special schools offered the only education available to children with disabilities because of the widespread belief that children with special needs could not be educated alongside others (Ministry of Law, Justice, & Company Affairs, 1996). This allowed a small number of children to have access to education but it did not help these children to enter the mainstream community after completing their education.

Integrated educationfor disabled children

With a purpose of integrating the physically and mentally challenged people in the society as equal members, the government of India has brought about a scheme known as Integrated Education for Disabled Children (IEDC). IEDC is a centrally sponsored scheme initiated in 1974 which is being implemented in various States and UTs. The IEDC program was revised in 1992 under which 100% financial assistance was offered to students to integrate them into the mainstream population (Bhattacharya, 2010). This financial supported transport facilities, books and stationery, uniform, instructional material, assistive equipments, readers facilities for the visually handicapped, attendance facility for the orthopedically handicapped, special teacher facility, hostel facility for disabled children situated on school campus and removal of architectural barriers in schools etc. (Mondal & Mete, 2012). Community involvement and partnerships between government agencies and NGOs are instrumental in promoting education of disabled children in India.

Organizations working for education of disabled children

* Sikshit Yuva Sewa Samiti (SYSS): It is an NGO in a partnership with the government, participates in the implementation of the Integrated Education for Disabled Children and DPEP (district primary education programme) projects. It also strengthens the program through community-based intervention initiatives. The projects provide physical infrastructure for schools through trained personnel and ensures accessibility for an enrolment of children with disabilities in community schools. Trained Anganwadi (grassroots) workers play crucial role in this activity (Bindal & Sharma, 2010). It also provides resource teachers as a support system to general teachers and a back-up team of physiotherapists. The NGO provides awareness and orientation training to general teachers, develops materials and supports general teachers in modification of curricula to facilitate learning by children with disabilities.

* Sir Shapurji BiHimoria Foundation: It is a teacher development initiative, which provides in-service training to ordinary teachers to meet the needs of children with disabilities. In addition, there is a three-year pre-service training program for school leavers. The training program ensures that teachers are able to facilitate the learning of all children in the classroom. Practical experience, exposure to participatory learning methodology and the ability to teach at the elementary level in a multiple setting are emphasized together with a focus on human development.

* Joyful Inclusion Training Program: It is being conducted by the CBR Network, an NGO. …

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