During the conferences, we invited students with and without disabilities studying in inclusive settings to share their experience; but the educators attended and shared, on behalf of their students, their experiences.
We are all aware that Inclusive education is when students with and without disabilities participate and learn together in the same classroom. Research shows that when a student with disabilities attends a class along with their peers who do not have disabilities and learn together, they recognize the value of inclusion and being part of an inclusive learning community. They also participate in and out of classroom activities.
Students with and without disabilities are very important stakeholders. Perspectives of both are expected to be illuminating in inclusive settings.
During our interactions with adults with disabilities about importance of inclusive education, it is reported that academically and socially, inclusion instills a sense of belongingness, positive school culture and for overall development. Education in inclusive settings is value added.
Inclusive education is a child’s right, not a privilege. The Right to Education Act (2009) and vision document of the Government of India clearly states that all students with disabilities should be educated in inclusive settings and should have access to the general education curriculum and assessment. It has been carried forward by the Rights of Persons with Disability Act 2016.
Sharing conference – Voice of Students
The Centre for Disability Studies and Action, School of Social Work of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, the Springdales School, Pusa Road, New Delhi and Brotherhood have decided to organize a series of conferences across India to understand the perspectives and learning experiences of students with and without disabilities studying in the inclusive settings.
A team comprising of 2-3 students with and without disabilities can be formed by the schools and encourage them to document perspectives and learning experiences in the inclusive settings.
Points for consideration
Perspective of students with and without disabilities may help in constructing inclusive learning.
Perspective of students without disabilities towards students with disabilities before and after the admission
Acceptance of students with disabilities by students without disabilities
Students without disabilities helping students with disabilities
Collaborative learning between students with and without disabilities
Peer support provides teachers with a learning tool to enhance instruction for students with and without disabilities
Bonding between students with and without disabilities
Peer support is the most powerful resource for implementing inclusive practices.
The voice of students with and without disabilities is an essential input for inclusive schools. They have the right to be heard. It is observed that students watch and learn more from what educators do than what they say.
The outcome of the conferences will be published in the form of books (ISBN). This will empower the schools, practitioners, policy makers and stakeholders to review, plan and design inclusive practices in schools,
The exercise based on student voice creates a sense of “belonging” over course of time. Peer support provides teachers with a learning tool to enhance learning and instruction for students with and without disabilities in inclusive education settings.