Understanding Inclusive Practice and Community Initiatives to Make Education Accessible to All
The study project was taken up to understand the initiatives and existing scenario of Inclusive Education(IE) in Karnataka in the context of its long history of implementing integrated and IE for children with disabilities through the scheme of IEDC and other governmental projects as DPEP, Janshala, & UNDP. Nevertheless, the knowledge about IE at the ground level remains scattered and untapped there is a need for collective critical engagement among practitioners of IE. The resulting gap in knowledge and collaborative practice leaves open several questions about the achievements and obstacles in using IE as an approach, about the role of various stakeholders such as the teachers, schools, peers, parents, communities and other social institutions, about the diversity and commonality in educational practices in IE, and the ground level response of the educational system to the needs and concerns of children with impairments. Future development in Inclusive Education depends on how well we understand these issues and understand the real barriers that children face in accessing their fundamental right and also our review of whether the general education system is equipped to and how is it responding to the challenges of educating children with disabilities in general schools.
The objectives of the project are:-
- Improving the status of education among children with impairments in Karnataka.
- Universalizing of education among children with various impairments.
- Documenting and proposing suggestions for ensuring that every child with impairment is provided with education.
This research project used a participatory research methodology for understanding the problems in the practice of IE by interacting with stake holders like teachers, NGOs DIETs through focus group discussions. There were field visits to selected blocks, group discussions and interviews and triangulation of data collected. Therefore the entire thrust of the project was to enable stakeholders to reflect on the issue of inclusion and their own role with respect to inclusion and also to help them reflect on the constraints and opportunities and contribute for future developments in this area.
In addition, as this research was envisaged as a ‘participatory’ process, the interim findings were fed into three processes that were simultaneously carried out by the SSA, namely the teleconference on IE, the Task Force on IE meeting, the DIET principals meeting and the Master Plan for IE at state level.
The broad and recurring trends and issues observed were triangulated with responses from various stakeholders and form the basis of analysis. Thus, the discussion/analysis pertains to our specific observations from these sources and does not necessarily reflect the situation in each and every corner of the State, which we have been unable to physically observe first-hand given the time and resource constraints.
Findings and Recommendations
The study concludes with the findings and recommendations that although the state has been at the forefront in the implementation of IEDC scheme since over last two decades and also being a pioneer in teacher trainings on IE which started with developing resource teachers for IEDC scheme, followed by inservice training during the DPEP and the Janashala period, the study findings are
- There is a need for comprehensive and a cogent policy and strategy on inclusion and the education of children with special needs. The entire work in this area in Karnataka has taken place under central government schemes and programmes. Hence it is recommended that the state education department develops a comprehensive and a cogent policy and strategy in this area that goes beyond the existing central government programmes such as the SSA and IEDC and addresses the state specific needs and realities with a long term vision.
- To evaluate data collection methods and parameters, so as to ensure complete and scientific data that can form the basis of planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation and provisions for all children identified
- Supportive measures as medical rehabilitation needs to be given immediate attention. It is recommended that the government should make arrangements to medically assess children periodically and in a scientific manner through convergence of depts. near to their place of stay or cluster level.
- Changing departments with IE has created a major concern among the stake holders. Hence, it is important to develop a separate IE cell/section within the Education Department that can provide direction and implement the goals of IE within the larger goals of education for all..
- Therefore the study recommends that the state should evolve a training strategy for the state that needs to be rolled out in short, medium and long terms. e classrooms.
- The study found that there was a lack of direction and convergence of efforts and resources in the govt. & non govt. sector. Thus, it is recommended that the state re-looks at the roles of all functionaries from the point of view of what resource support they can offer and draw up a strategy and functionaries that can provide continuous resource support and monitoring at the grass root level.
- The NGOs in the state have played a lead role in working with the issues of education of children with special needs. Therefore it is recommended that the government looks at ways in which public-private partnerships can be encouraged, while taking complete responsibility of IE itself.
- The study also found that IERTS are unable to provide resource support according to the prescribed roles and responsibilities and there is a perception among other functionaries that IERTs are mainly responsible for education of CWSN, therefore there is a need for capacity building of IERTs and the role of IERTS to be defined in the context of existing resource support system for effective implementation IE.