The past few years have witnessed a tremendous shift from considering a child with disability being educated as a wastage of time and money to gradually making the education system accessible, inclusive and sensitive to the needs of special children. Our society is yet to witness a complete transition from segregated education to inclusive education, however, the fact that the process of transition and attitudinal shift has at least started is worth acknowledging.
Inclusive education is a relatively new approach of mainstreaming the education of children with disabilities and learning difficulties within the conventional classroom teaching. It aims to foster a common learning environment for everybody who is marginalized due to disability, poverty, gender, caste etc. The National Education Policy of India proposes that children with diverse learning needs should be able to participate fully in the regular schooling process. Besides home, the school is a child’s first encounter with a formal learning environment. It is a place for a child to build relationships, communicate and learn together and hence, it is necessary for everyone including children with disabilities to feel welcomed, respected and develop a sense of belongingness within the classroom.
Efforts are being made to integrate children with disabilities into the mainstream education system and moving towards the practice of education without segregation, however, the road to achieving inclusive education isn’t an easy one. Challenges in implementing inclusive education include stigma and deeply held negative attitudes around disability, designing an inclusive curriculum, inadequate technology, lack of trained teaching staff etc. These challenges including many other untold issues need to be addressed timely and comprehensively so that the future of children with disabilities isn’t put at stake.
Majority in our society still believe that investing in a child with disability is of little worth as he/she will never prove to be an asset. As a result, children with disabilities have been ignored for a very long time, hence, the need to bring a shift in the mindset of people is as necessary and urgent as is promoting an inclusive education system.