We are far from Education for All
The United Nations education agency defines inclusion as a “process of identifying and breaking down barriers” in education and ensures the presence, participation and achievement of all students and students. their diversity ”. These diversities could be due to their gender, their economic, social, demographic, intellectual or physical characteristics.
The face of J&K education reflects exclusion based on these diversities. The problem is so complex that it is difficult to group all aspects of exclusion under one heading. However, the most pronounced and visible exclusion is that based on disability.
Earlier this year, the GoI announced “barrier-free access to education for all children with disabilities” as a translation of the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP2020). Blame it on the pandemic, no aggressive action has been taken by J&K to instill this provision in UT’s school education system. Therefore, if a parent of a child with visual, locomotor or speech and hearing impairments seeks to enroll him in a regular school, the outcome can be very predictable. The refusal of admission to children with the slightest learning disability is a reality of which the system as well as the population are well aware. Children with autism, dyslexia, dyscalculia, ADHD, stuttering, Down’s syndrome, do not easily find a place in a regular school, and if they do, they will soon find themselves out of school for the difficulties encountered in keeping up. ‘learning.
Can the fault go only to teachers and schools? Not really. In our education system, the teacher-student ratio, especially in the private sector, is such that teachers cannot find the time and space to recognize a child with a disability or meet their special educational needs. In addition, they are charged with more work than just teaching, at pay scales that in themselves are exploitative. NEP 2020 urges teachers to be fully trained and sufficiently prepared to identify and resolve learning difficulties. These include “short-term specialization courses for teaching children with disabilities and modules on teaching children with disabilities under existing programs”. The objective of these trainings will be to empower teachers to recognize and identify disabilities, in particular specific learning disabilities, and to respond to the needs of children with such difficulties.
There is a debate about special schools. While they may have the infrastructure and resources to provide better education for children with special needs, they also create discrimination and fail to address inclusiveness.
In our current educational scenario, children with learning disabilities and the like find themselves humiliated and mocked, often labeled lazy, insensitive and distracting. There is an urgent need to sensitize the education system, and not just teachers, to the essence of inclusive education.
In this sense, the Ministry of School Education had set up a listening and support unit for children, responsible for training teachers and identifying gaps in the education system in order to make inclusive education a priority. reality. The pandemic seems to have stopped the progression of this cell. The Psychology Department at GMC Srinagar also sought to raise awareness of learning difficulties and how their education and inclusion could be said in the same sentence. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many foundations that ensure children’s mental health and well-being, the team said.
However, a start seems to have been made with the collaboration of mental health experts and the education service. In the recent past, a number of activities have been carried out in collaboration by the two departments and many activities have been carried out in the 10 districts of Kashmir. These include capacity building programs on the following topics:
1. Psychological problems in children and adolescents their identification and orientation Program
2. Stress management and suicide prevention program
3. Importance of the Mental Health First Aid Program
4. Effective communication with children
5. Problems that can impact children’s mental health
Ø Physical training offering SMSPS to children in schools
Ø Community radio course on the following topics
School stress among schoolchildren
Being a parent during COVID
Problems that can impact children’s MS
Ø SMSPS community outreach programs on wheels
These activities and programs are a welcome start to changing the approach of the community and the education system to the education of children with physical and intellectual disabilities. Much has been said about overhauling the education system at J&K and across India if a child is turned away from school because he is not learning the same pace as his classmates.
The government must institute a complaints system where parents can register their experiences and complaints regarding the education of a child with special needs. Emphasis must be placed on empowering schools with tools, training and resources to ensure that education reaches all. Today, it is far from being a certain number of our children.