Networking will help special schools: Expert
Chennai: India is a far more inclusive society than the West, but there remain huge challenges when it comes to special education needs. Centres like Sankalp should network with other institutions, coordinate and disseminate information, said Richard Rose, professor of inclusive education and director of the Centre for Education and Research at the University of Northampton, UK.
He was in the city on Friday to attend the third international seminar on ‘inclusion through education and vocation’, organised by Sankalp, an institution that is involved in remedial instruction, catering to children with learning disability/dyslexia and autism spectrum disorder.
Forming a network would be useful, he said. Though India has Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and the Right to Education Act, government agencies and policy-makers have to address and support special education needs.
Mary Doveston, senior lecturer, school of education, Centre for Special Needs Education and Research at the University of Northampton, said teachers should also be trained for they needed a basic level of understanding about special education.
Started in 1999 with 25 children, Sankalp now has about 240 children. “Apart from our open school and learning centre, six months ago, we started the Sankalp Vocational Sahayika. Those kids, who do not fit into the academic mainstream, take this work skill programme, called ‘Sahayika’. We always talk about inclusion, but nothing has been done in India, and we have to really take it forward,” said Sulata Ajit, director (special education), Sankalp.
Speaking about the work skill programme, Prema Gnanaolivu, consultant, Sankalp Vocational Sahayika, said from the following year, apart from Sankalp’s kids, other students would also be able to join in this structured course that would be held in a simulated workshop setting.