Disabled students need not feel isolated when it comes to education. Inclusive education system ensures them equal opportunity.
It is a story of making the impossible possible. B.Bhavna, a girl affected with cerebral palsy, who is wheel-chair bound and cannot speak coherently, is studying for a Bachelors degree in Commerce at Ethiraj College for Women.
Bhavna, her mother Kalpana Rao says, is the first person to use a communication chart to speak to her lecturers and friends. “She points at the various symbols and letters in the chart to convey her message. Her friends use a carbon paper under their notebooks to copy class notes. A regular scribe helps her write her exams for which she gets an extra hour,” her mother says with pride.
Bhavna's story is an example of what inclusive education ought to be like.
If you asked S.Pavithra, another student affected with cerebral palsy studying in Ethiraj College, what “inclusive education” means to her, she will tell you that it is all about greater exposure to the outside world and greater opportunity to learn.
Both Bhavna and Pavithra are alumni of Vidya Sagar, a school for persons with disability. Vidya Sagar's director Rajul Padmanabhan says with the Right to Education Act, education is a right for every child, whether disabled or otherwise and no one should be left out of the loop.
She says that schools and colleges that are focused on producing results alone may not welcome students with disabilities but those who are interested in true education would certainly open their doors to them.
At a rally conducted in Chennai recently, several students with disabilities demanded that they be given a place in mainstream schools. The students demanded that schools and colleges make their campuses disabled-friendly and admit them.
Arun Prasad, an eight standard student of St. Louis Institute for Deaf & Blind, Adyar, said that people who did not suffer from disabilities were ignoring their needs,” he said. With a symbolic gesture of hands he asked, “Why should we study separately?”
Ms.Kalpana Rao says Bhavna does all her studies at home on her own. “I am a science person. But Bhavna said she was keen on studying commerce. I hardly help her with studies at home,” she says.
Being part of the mainstream has given students like Bhavna the confidence to go it alone.