Inclusive Schools

The National Curriculum Framework for School Education (NCFSE) (2000), brought out by the NCERT, recommended inclusive schools for all without specific reference to pupils with SEN as a way of providing quality education to all learners According to NCFSE:

Segregation or isolation is good neither for learners with disabilities nor for general learners without disabilities. Societal requirement is that learners with special needs should be educated along with other learners in inclusive schools, which are cost effective and have sound pedagogical practices (NCERT, 2000)

The NCFSE also recommended definitive action at the level of curriculum makers, teachers, writers of teaching–learning materials, and evaluation experts for the success of this strategy. This precipitated a revision of the IEDC scheme. This revision is in progress and has, to a certain extent, gained ground in the country.

Internationally, until the end of 1980s, integration remained the main issue whenever discussions were held regarding the rights of disabled persons to an appropriate education.

Whereas, in India, integration was a major reform of the 1970s, the need for inclusive education became evident from the fact that despite complete financial support under the IEDC scheme, for integrating learners with special needs into the educational system, only 2–3% of the total population of these learners was actually integrated into the regular schools.

Dissatisfaction with the progress towards integration, consideration of costs involved, and the advantages of an inclusive environment in bringing about increased acceptance of learners with SEN, led to demands for more radical change.

The constant use of the medical model of assessment, wherein educational difficulties are explained solely in terms of defects in the child, led to a re-conceptualization of the special needs (SN) task as requiring school reforms and improved pedagogy.

This re-conceptualization at the both the international and national level helped in the emergence of an orientation towards inclusive education.

In the 1990s, inclusion captured the field after the World Conference on Special Needs Education in Salamanca in 1994, with the adoption of the Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education.

This statement, which was adopted by the representatives of 92 governments and 25 international organizations in June 1994, has definitely set the policy agenda for inclusive education on a global basis (UNESCO, 1994). To quote from the Salamanca Statement:

We the delegates of the World Conference on Special Needs Education…hereby reaffirm our commitment to Education for All, recognizing the necessity and urgency of providing education to children, youth, and adults with SEN within the regular education system, and further hereby endorse the Framework for Action on SNE, that governments and organizations may be guided by the spirit of its provisions and recommendations (UNESCO, 1994: 8)

Though, in India, there is no formal or official definition of inclusion, it does not only mean the placement of students with SEN in regular classrooms.

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