Inclusive Education is a development approach seeking to address
the learning needs of all 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). 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. Some organizations and people,
however express reservation as to whether the ordinary classroom
in regular schools can provide optimal quality education for handicapped
children. This debate is historical and has been on-going ever since
people began to question the old segregated institutions, and to
struggle for the equality of handicapped children and their Integration
in to society and in to education.
Educational intervention and support designed to address special
educational needs should be viewed from three indicators. Community,
Equality and Participation.
The philosophy of education that caters to the needs of all children
can be said to rest on three factors.
1) Handicap seen in relation to demands from environment
2) A holistic view of the pupil.
3) The principal of non-segregation measure.
The objectives of Inclusive education are
1) To educate all children together for their mutual benefit
2) To change attitudes towards different children by forming the
basics for a ‘just and non-discriminatory’ society which encourages
people to live and learn together.
The Salamanca statement, 1994, of the World Conference on Special
Needs Education Access and Quality states that “Regular schools
with an inclusive orientation are the most effective means of combating
discriminatory attitudes and improve efficiency and ultimately,
the cost effectiveness of the entire education system”.
The right to education is proclaimed in Universal Declaration of
It has also been reaffirmed in the World Declaration on Education
For All. The
Policy statement and framework for action on special education needs,
adopted by UNESCO in 1994, stated that schools should accommodate
all children regardless of their physical, intellectual, social,
emotional, linguistic or other condition. It further states that,
the schools have to find ways of successfully educating all children
including those who have serious disadvantages and disabilities.
It is high time that special schools encourage integration and function
more as resource and training centers for personnel of ordinary
schools for identifying disabled children and adopting the curriculum
and teaching methods to suit individual need of their pupils
In special educational set up, a child is brought up in a world
that does not exist, because when any handicap child leaves a special
school, he enters a world of normal people. The blind enters a seeing
world, deaf enters a hearing world and physically handicap child
enters a mobile world. In 1998, The Harvard Education Review carried
summary of 15 years of research, which found that special schools
result in low self esteem and feeling of social inadequacy. Fewer
products of special schools opt for higher education or get jobs
later in life.
The literacy rate in India increased from 18.3% in 1951 to 62.2%
in 1991. The country has witnessed phenomenal expansion of educational
opportunities in the post independence period. But disabled children
however have not benefited substantially from the growth in educational
facilities. Kothari Commission recommended in 1964, integration
of the handicapped in the regular school programs and in 1986 NCERT
formulated Project Integrated Education for the Disabled (PIED).
PIED had been designed to strengthen implementation of the centrally
sponsored scheme of Integrated Education for the Disabled Children.
(IEDC).This was formulated in collaboration with UNICEF. The major
objective of the project is to achieve the goal of Education for
All. It aimed to reduce the isolation of handicapped children, to
promote the psychological acceptance of these children by the normal
school going population and to equip them with the competencies
to face life with courage and confidence.
Deafness was not included in the Indian censuses till the National
Sample Survey Organization’s 36th round in 1981, the International
Year of Disabled Persons.
The second count was carried out in the 47th round of the NSSO which
estimated 6.5 million deaf Indian populations in 1991. In both the
surveys, Hearing Disability was defined as “The deaf are those in
whom the sense of hearing is non functional for ordinary purpose
of life. Generally a loss of hearing at 70 db or above at 500, 1000
and 2000 frequencies will make residual hearing non-functional.”
Hearing disability was judged taken in to consideration the following
1) Profound - Who could hear only loud sound or thunder.
2) Severe - Who could hear shouted words or could hear when speaker
was sitting in front.
3) Moderate – Neither profound nor severe.
During survey conducted in 2001, a person who could not hear at
all or could hear only loud sound was considered as having hearing
disability. Also a person who could not hear through one ear but
other ear was functioning normally was considered as having hearing
Ministry of Welfare, Govt. of India defines – Hearing handicap refers
to hearing loss of 70db or more in the better ear for vocational
purpose and 55db or more loss for educational purpose.
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 disable 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. Studies abroad and at home have indicated that there are
clear advantages for a hearing impaired child who integrates well
in to a hearing environment. There is ample evidence to show that
those hearing impaired children who have been mainstreamed in to
their local schools develop better life skills in coping with their
These advantages would be possible only if the hearing impaired
child was given great deal of special attention from the beginning
to cope with the pressures of hearing environment. This means special
training which includes developing language, auditory, lip reading
and speech, perceptual, cognitive, motor and social skills. Success
of mainstream education depends on various factors like age of onset
of impairment, extent of impairment, use of adequate amplification,
early intervention, parental and teacher support and child’s ability
to lip read and develop oral skills that a hearing impaired child
develops sufficient language and communication skills to be able
to socialize, develop relationships, learn to trust, share and relate.