Acts for inclusive education in India.
Investment in education to include all is the set goal before the country and as such, there are number of initiatives taken in pursuance of this objective. They are as following:
The Indian Education Commission (1964-66) –
The Indian Education Commission was the first statutory body to suggest that the education of handicapped children has to be organized not merely on humanitarian ground, but also on grounds of utility. The Commission observed that although the Indian Constitution had issued specific directives about compulsory education for all, including children with disabilities, very little had been done in this regard.
The Commission also emphasized that the education of children with disabilities should be “an inseparable part of the general education system”. At the time when the Commission made its recommendations there were less than 250 special schools in India. The commission felt that services for children with disabilities were extremely inadequate and recommended the adoption of a dual approach, namely, the provision of special as well as integrated education to improve the situation.
The commission set the following targets to be achieved by 1986: education for about 15 percent of the blind, the deaf and orthopedically handicapped and 5 percent of the mentally retarded. The Commission also specifically emphasized the importance of integrated education in meeting this target as it is cost-effective and useful in developing mutual understanding between children with and without disabilities.
Integrated education for Disabled Children (IEDC, 1974) –
In 1974, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, initiated the IEDC program to promote the integration of students with mild to moderate disabilities into regular schools. Children were to be provided financial support for books, stationery, school uniforms, transport, special equipment and aides. The state governments were provided 50 percent financial assistance to implement this program in regular schools. However, the program met with little success.
A criticism of this program in the state of Maharashtra reported that the
(a) non-availability of trained and experienced teachers.
(b) lack of orientation among schools staff on the problems educational materials, were the major contributory factors for its failure.
A lack of coordination amount various department to implement the scheme was also considered a major contributor for its failure. By 1979-80, only 1,881 children from 81 schools all over the country had benefited from this program. Due to the failure of the IEDC scheme, it was revised in 1992.
Until 1990, the scheme was implemented in 14 states. These were Andaman and Nicobar, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Orissa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. Kerala is the only state that has shown remarkable progress in implementing this scheme. In Kerala, the scheme has been implemented in 4,487 schools and 12,961 children have been served under this scheme.
National Policy on Education (NPE, 1986-92) –
In 1968, the Indian Government formulated the National Policy on Education for all government schools and articulated a need to integrate students with disabilities. Again in 1986, the National Policy on Education devoted a specific section to the education of students with disabilities. It emphasized that whenever feasible, the education of children with motor handicaps and other mild disabilities should be provided in regular schools.
The National Policy also stressed that those children whose needs could not be met in regular schools were to be enrolled in special schools. Children who were already in special school s could be integrated into regular schools as soon as they acquired reasonable levels of daily living, communication and basic academic skill. It also emphasized the need to restructure primary teacher training programs to prepare teacher to deal with the special difficulties of children with disabilities.
Project Integrated Education for the Disabled (PIED, 1987) –
In 1987, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) in association with UNICEF and the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) undertook “Project Integrated Education for the Disabled” (PIED). The aim of the project was to strengthen the implementation of the IEDC scheme.
District Primary Education Program (DPEP, 1994) –
A centrally sponsored scheme, the District Primary Education Program aims to reduce the overall dropout rates of all students enrolled in primary classes, to raise their achievement levels and to provide primary education for all children, including children with disabilities. This is probably the largest program of the central government in terms of funding.
The Persons with Disabilities Act (PWD Act, 1995) –
A close examination of the national initiatives discussed so far indicates that although the Indian Government had made several attempts to implement integrated education programs, it lacked a firm commitment to promote integration. This was largely because the Indian Government has considered provision for children with disabilities to be a welfare issue rather than an educational imperative.
The PWD Act proposed the provision of improved educational services, medical care, vocation training, employment, and social security for all persons with disabilities. The Act further stated that whenever possible, students with disabilities should be educated in regular school settings.