A note on Inclusive Education Historically, attempts towards development and ensuring equality and justice for all have commonly been found to conform to the norms and systems of the majority. Most of these attempts have articulated the need for inclusion of all segments of the society – however, in most cases this articulation took the form of ‘special care systems’ that ultimately led to further exclusion of these communities – physically, mentally and psychologically. For a variegated and multi-segment society like India it is even more common. CRY, having taken cognizance of this phenomenon, has continually made efforts through the range of interventions to include all segments (social, cultural and economic) in the collective battle for child rights. More specifically, CRY has been advocating for a Common School System (CSS) that has as its bedrock the principles of equality, justice and inclusion. CSS has been defined from varied perspectives reflecting on the diverse backgrounds, knowledge base, skills, concepts, ideologies and experiences of people and institutions involved. An attempt to provide a comprehensive definition of CSS was made while proposing to the CABE Committee on ‘Free and Compulsory Education’ as follows – ‘Common School System means the National System of Education that is founded on the principles of equality and social justice as enshrined in the Constitution and provides education of a comparable quality to all children in an equitable manner irrespective of their caste, creed, language, gender, economic or ethnic background, location or disability (physical or mental), and wherein all categories of schools – i.e. government, local body or private, both aided and unaided, or otherwise – will be obliged to (a) Fulfill certain minimum infrastructural (including those relating to teachers and other staff), financial, curricular, pedagogic, linguistic and socio-cultural norms and (b) ensure free education to the children in a specified neighbourhood from an age group and/or up to a stage, as may be prescribed, while having adequate flexibility and academic freedom to explore, innovate and be creative and appropriately reflecting the geo-cultural and linguistic diversity of the country, within the broad policy guidelines and the National Curriculum Framework for School Education as approved by the Central Advisory Board of Education.’1 What is also available for public reference is the recommendation of The Education Commission (1964 – 66) that clearly indicates the intent of The Commission to look at CSS as an effective instrument to build a society grounded on the principles of equality and social justice. For actualizing this, what is necessary is acceptance of the principle of ‘Inclusion’ and percolation of the same across all levels of society. Discourses on the principles of social inclusion and exclusion are integral to any debate and dialogue on the principles of justice and equality. Over time the element of ‘Inclusion’ has been incorporated into the mainstream discussion on Education Policy as well. Common ways of thinking about inclusion and exclusion2 are: • Inclusion as a right: Since the 1950s there has been increasing dissatisfaction, amongst educators in many countries, with the practice of ‘special education’ which separates so-called ‘disabled’ or ‘different’ children from the rest of society and educates them in different schools. Special education is seen as simply reinforcing problematic inequalities and exclusion.
A Compilation of Notes on Common School System by Prof Anil Sadgopal presented at the meeting of CABE at New Delhi in July 2005. 2 ID 21 – Communicating Development Research – Approaches to Inclusive Education. 1
Inclusion as effective: This argues that inclusive schools are more cost-efficient, socially beneficial and educationally effective than segregated special schools. Proponents criticize ‘special education’ programmes as unsuccessful....