Special Needs Commentaries
Inclusive Education for Special Kids [in India]
Special or regular school? In India, 95/100 students with special needs have no school.
Kay's Comment: Fewer than 5 out of every 100 students with special needs students in India have access to any sort of education, special or inclusive. The last paragraph asks a very important question: "And so the debate goes on. In a world where schools are driven to produce only doctors and engineers, where does a child with special needs go? To a special school, isolated from the real world, or to a regular school, learning the ways of the real, often cruel world."
New Delhi: "School is like Diwali," says Shreya.
Not every child would think school is as much fun as Diwali, but then Shreya Singh is not every kid. He has an attention deficit disorder, which means he cannot follow multiple instructions and making a paper fan for him is an effort, but the talking he does effortlessly.
His friend from Class II, Nanki Singh, is a bit shy though. She is developmentally delayed, which means that while she is 11 years old, her mental age is still six and that makes her a slow learner.
She isn't particularly fond of numbers but she has it all figured out.
Both Shreya and Nanki are special children who don't go to special schools - they study at Delhi's St Mary's School.
Nanki's mother says it was a nightmare getting a regular school to take Nanki in, but the effort has been worth it.
"It has developed her self confidence and her peer interaction has increased," says Nanki's mother, Bobby Singh.
It has also built Nanki's teachers' confidence - none of whom are trained to deal with the 120 special children in the school. For them, it's been a lesson on how a little extra effort - something as small as helping a child colour a diya can go a long way .
Says Principal,St Mary's School Anne Koshy, "Inclusive education certainly seems has worked both ways. All of us have learnt to be more broad based in our methodology, to be more understanding. I think our relations with our husbands and wives and children are all so much better now."
But many argue on whether that's the best way to educate special children, children who have specific individual needs and children who can be made to feel like misfits in the sometimes cruel world.
"It's good publicity to say that we put everybody into the same classroom, but actually you are not doing justice to the child. The child has a particular need that he needs to be helped to deal with," says Principal Sanskriti School Gauri Ishwaran.
The real handicap is that out of India's over 2 crore physically and mentally disabled children, less than ten lakh (that's less than five out of every 100) have access to any sort of education -- special or inclusive.
And so the debate goes on. In a world where schools are driven to produce only doctors and engineers, where does a child with special needs go? To a special school, isolated from the real world, or to a regular school, learning the ways of the real, often cruel world.
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