For the past few years, inclusive education has been a trending topic around the globe as countries, including India, have prioritized inclusivity in educational policies. It is an educational approach and philosophy that strengthens the education system’s capacity to reach out to all learners. The goal is to provide all students greater academic and social achievement opportunities, no matter how they differ from others in terms of physical, mental, or social capabilities. UNICEF defines inclusive education as “a process of addressing the diverse needs of all learners by reducing barriers to and within the learning environment. It means attending the age-appropriate class of the child’s local school, with individually tailored support.”
Throughout the years, the trajectory of India’s education policies has evolved toward embracing the idea of inclusive education, ultimately making education accessible and available for every child. While the concept of inclusive education originally focussed on differently-abled students, it has since been broadened to encompass students who are financially and geographically disadvantaged. This idea began gaining traction in India during the 1990s. Then the breakthrough happened in August 2009, when the Parliament passed the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act. Once the Act came into force in 2010, India became one among 135 countries where education is a fundamental right of every child.
This broader commitment and understanding of inclusivity paved the way for today’s possibilities. The National Education Policy 2020 built on this progress with new initiatives that prioritize inclusive education. For example, it included the following objective: “Achieve an inclusive and equitable education system so that all children have equal opportunity to learn and thrive, and so that participation and learning outcomes are equalized across all genders and social categories by 2030.” It then expanded the traditional categorization of the marginalized to recognize the interconnectedness and multidimensionality of the excluded by adding the broader category of Socio-Economically Disadvantaged Groups (SEDGs).
While this shift will require a significant change in the current system, there are proven benefits that make inclusive education worth it. The growing body of research has shown that children do better academically when in inclusive settings. Benefits include:
Extra Support: low-achieving students can get extra help even though they did not qualify for special education.
Better Academic Performance: It’s found that differently-abled children perform better academically when they learn with other students in similar settings.
Inclusion of Families: The benefits of inclusive education are not restricted only to the students but also their families, as sometimes they also feel isolated from the community.
Growth of Economic: Poverty blocks many Indians from the education system due to the lack of financial inclusion. Suppose these millions of children are given an education. In that case, they will achieve the necessary skill development to push the economy to new heights.
Democratized Quality: Inclusive education removes the divide between the quality of education that students receive.
When applied to the entire country, the positive outcomes of inclusive education are exponential. When all children can participate in quality education, they graduate to contribute meaningfully to the workforce. This opens up opportunities for future innovations and developments.
Just as the National Education Policy 2020 outlined, critical barriers to inclusive education need to be addressed to achieve inclusivity goals. These recognized barriers include a lack of access to schools, poverty, social biases, and a non-inclusive curriculum. Because many disadvantaged students live in rural areas that make it difficult to access schools physically, remote learning has often been touted to reach these students.
While remote learning expands possibilities for many, students often lack access to devices, a reliable internet connection, or a dedicated quiet place to study. The 2017-2018 report from National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) showed that only 24% of the Indian population had reliable internet access, leaving most students behind. To study from home, they can only passively read materials they happen to find. While this setup privileges children who have reliable internet service, even families with adequate resources find it difficult to keep children engaged online.
About the Author: Bipin Dama, Founder & CEO, Saras Inc (Saras-3D)
Bipin Dama is the Founder & CEO of Saras-3D Inc. (Saras-3D) – India’s first stereoscopic 3D learning solution for science and mathematics that brings international learnings and best practices to India. The company operates in India through its wholly owned subsidiary 3D EdTech Pvt Ltd.
An industry veteran with over 33 years of experience in the technology industry, Bipin has a proven track record of successful product delivery from concept to deployment with substantial revenue generation and shareholder returns. He holds 37 granted US patents.
Bipin founded Saras-3D, Inc. with an aim to create the right foundation for learning and acquisition of knowledge to help shape STEM innovators and problem solvers of tomorrow and empower them to compete and succeed globally. Through his guidance the company has created Genius 3D Learning solution, a pioneering, stereoscopic 3D technology-based learning experience that uses the power of interactive visualization to help students learn 2X faster and achieve their academic goals. His key focus at Saras-3D is to combine innovations in technology and learning methodology to democratize high quality education for all.
Bipin holds a B.E. (Electrical Engineering) from Marathwada University, Aurangabad, and Master of Science Degree (MS – Electrical and Computer Engineering) from Rutgers University, New Jersey.