INCLUSIVE EDUCATION (IE) is a new approach towards educating the children with disability and learning difficulties with that of normal ones within the same roof. It brings all students together in one classroom and community, regardless of their strengths or weaknesses in any area, and seeks to maximize the potential of all students. It is one of the most effective ways in which to promote an inclusive and tolerant society. Inclusive education values diversity and the unique contributions each student brings to the classroom. In a truly inclusive setting, every child feels safe and has a sense of belonging. Students and their parents participate in setting learning goals and take part in decisions that affect them. And school staff has the training, support, flexibility, and resources to nurture, encourage, and respond to the needs of all students. Research shows that when a child with disabilities attends classes alongside peers who do not have disabilities, good things happen. For a long time, children with disabilities were educated in separate classes or in separate schools. People got used to the idea that special education meant separate education. But we now know that when children are educated together, positive academic and social outcomes occur for all the children involved.
As a head it is very important to manage overall system of the school when inclusion of a child with disability is admitted in school. To manage that we have to follow the followings rules from the example of Komal Gupta Case
Rule No. 1: Open yourself to opportunities
In order to understand the management of inclusion it would be interesting to look into the case of when and how a school changed to inclusion. Komal Gupta a child with severe cerebral palsy had finished his class X from the Spastic Society of Northern India, Delhi. The Spastic Society said that their teachers were only qualified to teach up to class X and if Komal wished to continue his studies then he would have to find another place to do so. She convinced the management that the boy was bright and that he would not trouble anyone. All that required was that Komal be allowed to sit in his wheelchair in class. The school agreed. And therein lies the first lesson of good management that is open to opportunities.
Rule No. 2: Leaders need to have a vision
The school had no clear cut policy statement on inclusion. In fact at that point the school was not even very clear about the difference between integration and inclusion but the school had a definite vision about what education was.
Education was about making a difference. It was not about dividing people but about including and celebrating difference. Once the Head has the vision that the student are the change maker. He/she works on that vision consistently to do that he/she would first ensure that his teachers are change makers.
Rule No. 3: Empower your teachers
Once Komal joined the school, the school dropped the idea of hiring special educator because of insufficient funds and decided that it would be better for them to introduce all teachers who were dealing with Komal to cerebral palsy. As a head, the school encouraged teachers to become reflective/ activists or thinkers confident enough to experiment with aspects of their practice. Through workshops and group discussions they were helped to overcome their deficit orientation to difference. Through the various interactions teachers realized that reflection alone is not sufficient it has to be supplemented with confrontation with other points of view and implementation of new ideas
Rule No. 4 : Practice democracy.
As a head, teachers must be given freedom to change the syllabus, curriculum, teaching style and assessment system as per Komal requirement. In short Komal had a flexible curriculum and assessment procedure.
Rule No. 5 : Be prepared for change (in this case infrastructure)
Infrastructure of the school must be change wherever possible as per the requirements of the children like Komal. For example: The school raised money for a lift and built small ramps wherever possible. In the boys’ toilet a western style toilet can be constructed. A special table and chair can be made to enable Komal to sit comfortably in the classroom.
Rule No. 6: Involve the community parent. Encourage and facilitate the participation of parents and community.
It was obvious that Komal could not fight this battle on his own. He would need help from every corner. In order to get the support from every quarter for Komal it was necessary that we involved his family i.e., his parents, his siblings, his neighbours, his teachers and his peer grouping the school. In that way we can build the confident of the Komal. But we must remember that we must make him dependent. We must encourage him to work independently.
Sources : Ignou MES 008 Leadership for Better School