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Inter and intra ministerial coordination – for success of inclusive education for children with disabilities

Thought has to percolate deep into the process of beginning coordination between Ministries and Department of Ministry working towards education and empowerment of persons with disabilities.  There is ideological clash in the measures taken by different ministries. MSJE is supporting financially for a living (Disability Pension) both at the national and state levels.  The measures taken at state levels vary considerably.  MSJE funds special schools for different disabilities by providing residential facilities. It was a necessary step when the society was biased beyond belief that they can be educated. The charity/service model followed through these initiatives may  slowly focus towards training for independent living through planned measures to meet with the global movement of moving towards ensuring human rights / positive rights for persons with disabilities.   MHRD is giving financial support for empowering the individual through education.  Health ministry is funding for medical treatment and early identification and intervention.  Early intervention and   medical treatment aim at empowerment of the individual through education thus converging with the idea of placing them in inclusive schools.  The policies of different Ministries would converge if MSJE would be giving financial benefit only for education and skill development up to the age of 18 and later, for self employment thereby promoting education and independent living.

When the in-service teacher development programmes are again running in parallel lines an example to follow is the  Odisha Government initiative in including teachers from special schools in their routine in-service teacher development programmes under SSA, thereby making an effort to bridge the cleavage to some extent.  Teachers from special schools are getting oriented to the latest developments in the education scenario which they can  implement in their routine.  On the similar lines opening for  regular school teachers can be kept in the continuing rehabilitation education programmes of RCI

The parallel systems of teacher education (special education and general education) even today claim to be preparing teachers for inclusive set up.  As per this, the TE policies expect student teachers to go for internship in inclusive set up.  But  teacher education institutes (TEIs) send their students into schools as per their convenience and most of the time they are not ‘inclusive’ in the true sense.  (Students from diverse background with respect to socio-economic, cultural,  different disabilities are not found  in most of the schools).  The special education TEIs send their student teachers to special schools depending on the requirement as per the programme (HI, VI, and so on).  Student teachers come out of their respective TEIs believing what they practiced.  Teachers coming from regular education TEIs believe that it is difficult to attend to children with disabilities in a large classroom; teachers coming from special education TEIs believe that children with disabilities learn better in a segregated set up.  Thus it is essential that our school education policies match the TE policies.  Then TEIs will have more options to send students for internship in a set up as per the policy demand. Informal conversation with heads of institutes at the secondary education level, it is found that still they strongly believe that children with disabilities should be in special schools where teachers qualified to teach (special education B Ed) are available.  The head teachers claim that the teachers in their schools are not aware of teaching children with different disabilities as they have done B Ed general, not B Ed special.

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