Inclusive Education is a development approach seeking to address the learning needs of all the children, youth and adults with a specific focus on those who are vulnerable to marginalization and exclusion. The principle of Inclusive Education was adopted at the World Conference on Special Needs Education Access and Quality (Salamanca, Spain, 1994) and was restated at the World Education Forum (Dakar, Senegal, 2000). It stated that ‘Regular schools with an inclusive orientation are the most effective means of combating discriminatory attitudes and improve efficiency and ultimately cost effectiveness of the entire education system. The idea of inclusion is further supported by the UN Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities proclaiming participation and equality.
An increasing number of publications, workshops, policy papers etc. are in clear support of these ideas. In recent years, the appropriateness of having separate system in form of special schools has been questioned, both from the human rights perspective and from the point of view of effectiveness.
Do disabled children have to remain segregated all their life?
Do they have to be onlookers always, for no fault of theirs?
There is a cry in the disability sector today for inclusive education where the disabled child can go to the same neighborhood school as his friends, sit at the same desk, play the same games and do everything else that other children do, keeping in mind his limitations, weaknesses and strengths. Severe delays in acquiring language and communication skills block deaf children from the informal avenues of learning that hearing children use to extend their social environment and develop life skills.
The objectives of Inclusive education are
- To educate all the children together for their mutual benefit.
- To reduce the isolation of handicap children.
- To equip them with the competencies to face life with courage and confidence.
- To promote psychological acceptance of such children by the normal school going population
- To change attitudes towards differently abled children
- To form the basis for a just and non-discriminatory society which encourages people to live and learn together
The extent to which a student is "included," however, should be addressed in light of the individual child's needs and communication mode. The ultimate question to be considered in this regard is whether the environment chosen for the child will provide social and intellectual stimulation and thereby foster individual development.