Education ministry calls for diversity and inclusivity in schools in new norms
The guidelines recommend culturally and socially accommodating curricula, teacher training to support all students, and equipping resource centers with assistive devices.
Schools in India should ensure inclusivity and celebrate diversity of students with different learning needs, the education ministry has recommended in fresh guidelines, which entails making curriculum culturally and socially accommodating, encouraging teachers to develop knowledge and skills to teach all children in a class, and strengthening resource centres by equipping them with assistive devices.
The National Guidelines and Implementation Framework on Equitable and Inclusive Education have been prepared by the National Council of Educational Research and Training in line with the National Education Policy 2020 that envisages transforming India by providing high-quality “equitable and inclusive education” to ensure students with diverse learning needs are able to thrive.
The guidelines, released on Friday, have been prepared focusing on children from socioeconomically disadvantaged groups that are further categorized on the basis of their gender identities, sociocultural identities, disabilities, geographical identities and economic conditions.
“The objective is to develop a sense of belongingness, respect and acceptance of diversity by recognizing, identifying and fostering the capabilities of every individual. sensitize stakeholders and to develop the capacities of teachers to address the learning needs of students from different backgrounds,” the guidelines stated.
Marginalised students encounter learning issues due to several reasons, including lack of identification of learning needs, stereotypes against providing educational opportunities children belonging to certain sections, unavailability of local teachers, lack of context specific teaching-learning material in local language, infrastructural lags like labs, library, residential school facilities, inaccessible support system and untimely distribution of scholarships and other incentive, among others, the guidelines said.
Noting that it was important for schools to facilitate inclusion of all children, the guidelines recommended there should not be any kind of discrimination, negative dispositions and violence against or among students. They further say that schools should provide “adequate facility of resource persons, and frequency of support in the school such as speech therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, physiotherapists etc”.
“State should ensure facilities available and accessible in schools for vocational exposure and skill training to students belonging to SEDGs. Quality skill training to students opting subjects based on different vocations, trades or skills must be provided,” they added.
While emphasizing on the importance of the accessible infrastructure in schools to promote inclusivity, the guidelines also recommended that the schools should also ensure “timely distribution of proper aids and appliances, repair and maintenance, reissuing appliances in case of damage or loss.”
The guidelines stressed on the capacity building of teachers. “A teacher may require additional support in terms of accessible materials, modifications in infrastructure, and technological interventions, therapeutic support, maintaining linearity between home and school and planning need-based assessment activities,” they stated.
The guidelines also emphasized on the importance of collaboration between schools with NGOs and organizations working in the area of health, education, social welfare and gender for educational, medical, therapeutic and psychosocial interventions required by marginalised children.
“Local communities and organisations can fill the gap wherever immediate resources and services are required at the local level,” the guidelines said. “Collaboration can be done with media organizations for local awareness on inclusive education to steer public attitude towards inclusion.”
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