Education > What the law says> Comprehensive Action Plan for Inclusive Education

The Minister for Human Resource Development, Mr. Arjun Singh, had presented the Comprehensive Plan of Action for Children and Youth with Disabilities, in the Parliament on March 21, 2005.

Since then, the Ministry has been interacting and consulting with experts, N.G.Os, disability rights groups, parent groups, government bodies, etc.

N.C.P.E.D.P. has taken up the task of seeking regional opinion and national consensus on the Action Plan by bringing together stakeholders, professionals and activists through zonal consultations in Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. The Ministry has sought further suggestions on the revised Action Plan saying: “While appreciating general comments on the activities listed, the Ministry would especially welcome specific suggestions on the areas that need to be prioritized, good inclusive practices that are happening around the country and any details that have been overlooked. The plan needs to be seen as a work in progress and your suggestions will help the Ministry develop a framework for the inclusion of learners with disabilities in mainstream educational settings in the country.”

Inclusive Education

Introductory Note

Statement of Minister of Human Resource Development in the Rajya Sabha, March 21, 2005

Action Plan for Inclusive Education of Children and Youth with Disabilites, August 20, 2005

Introductory Note

The Ministry of Human Resource Development is currently in the process of developing a Comprehensive Action Plan on the Inclusion in Education of Children and Youth with Disabilities.

A statement spelling out the areas of action was made in the Rajya Sabha by Shri Arjun Singh, Minister for Human Resource Development on the 21 st of March, 2005.

Since then, the Ministry has been interacting and consulting with experts, NGOs, Disability Rights Groups, Parents Groups, Government bodies etc.

The following framework of the Action Plan and list of activities has been developed as a result of the initial consultations. The plan covers the inclusion in education of children and young persons with disabilities. The different sectors to be covered in the plan are 1) Early Childhood Care and Education 2) Elementary Education 3) Secondary Education 4) Higher and Technical Education 5) Vocational Education.

The different departments at the Central level are in the process of developing their work plans. Roles and responsibilities for implementing agencies and their partners, the roles of NGOs, parents groups are also being drafted.  Monitoring guidelines, success indicators etc are also being reviewed. The role of special schools, special educators and other support professionals are being assessed within the changing scenario.

It is in this regard that the current plan is being put out for feedback from a larger group for inputs.

While appreciating general comments on the activities listed, the Ministry would especially welcome specific suggestions on the areas that need to be prioritized, good inclusive practices that are happening around the country and any details that have been overlooked. The plan needs to be seen as a work in progress and your suggestions will help the Ministry develop a framework for the inclusion of learners with disabilities in mainstream educational settings in the country.

This will be supported by adequate funding through a revised Inclusive Education for Children and Young Persons with Disabilities (IECYD) Scheme.

top of page

We also expect to develop this site to include links to related sites and also to details of persons and institutions working in the area of inclusive education.

Your suggestions may be sent by post to Keshav Desiraju, Joint Secretary (SE), Department of Secondary & Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development, 314-C Shastri Bhavan, New Delhi-110001 or mailed electronically to k.desiraju@nic.in by the 31 st of October, 2005.

Statement of Minister Of Human Resource Development In The Rajya Sabha On 21/3/05

Sir, as promised in this august house during the last session of the Parliament, my Ministry has formulated a comprehensive Action Plan for the Inclusive Education of Children and Youth with Disabilities. The need for inclusive education arises precisely because it is now well understood that most children with disabilities can, with motivation and effort on the part of teaching institutions, become an integral part of those institutions. The government is committed to providing education through mainstream schools for children with disabilities, in accordance with the provisions of the Persons With Disabilities Act, 1995. Non-specialist schools, whether at the elementary, secondary or higher levels can, with appropriate support within the education community adapt themselves to work with children with disabilities. Worldwide there is a conscious shift away from special schooling to mainstream schooling of education for children with disabilities. It should, and will be our objective to make mainstream education not just available but accessible, affordable and appropriate for students with disabilities. I also believe that if we make our schools accessible to children with disabilities, we will also be improving the quality of education for all children, a key objective of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.

The main objectives of the Action Plan will be:

Under this plan, the first level of intervention will be through the Integrated Child Development Services Programme. As Members of the House are aware, the ICDS Programme reaches out to all children in the age group of 0-6 years. The Anganwadi workers will be trained to detect disabilities early at an early stage by the Department of Women and Child Development, which will use the training modules prepared for this purpose by the National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD) and other such agencies with the inputs of the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment. ICDS workers will be trained to motivate parents of children with disabilities. The ICDS Programme itself will provide for supplementary material to be used in the centers. We look to the collaboration of the State Governments in strengthening this new dimension to the ICDS Programme. In addition under the National Rural Health Mission, the Community Health Worker (CHW) will also be imparted training on early identification and intervention methods for all children at risk.

Our Constitution provides for free and compulsory education of all children up to 14 years. My Ministry is separately working on legislation on this subject. Through our Action Plan we will monitor the enrolment in schools of disabled children. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan provides for district based educational planning and implementation for all children of the age group 6 to 14 years. It will be ensured that district level plans focus on all aspects of the education of children with special needs, including enrolment, support through assistive devices and the availability of trained teachers. Appropriate Special Schools in the non-governmental sector would increasingly become resource centers to assist with teacher training and supply of training material, and ensure retention of enrolled children with disabilities within the mainstream schools. These resource centers will support non-formal education as also home-based learning activities. Under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan State Governments are given ‘earmarked' funds for undertaking special activities aimed at every single identified child with special needs. Utilisation of these funds will be closely monitored. We hope that these concerted efforts will lead to the coverage of all children with disabilities as part of the universalisation of education up to 14 years.

top of page

The Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995 provides for access to free education in an appropriate environment for children with disabilities till they attain the age of 18 years. The educational needs of disabled persons between the ages of 14 and 18 will be covered through a range of interventions including a Revised Plan for Inclusive Education of Children and Youth with Disabilities (IECYD) at an enhanced outlay of Rs. 1,000 Crores. Whereas under the Scheme of Integrated Education for the Disabled Children (IEDC) as it stands at present, children with disabilities are placed in a regular school without making any changes in the school to accommodate and support diverse needs, the revised IECYD will, in contrast, modify the existing physical infrastructure and teaching methodologies to meet the needs of all children including Children with Special Needs.

The Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995 further provides for 3 % reservation in all institutions receiving funds from Government for persons with disabilities. The implementation of these provisions in educational institutions will be taken up as a priority activity under the Action Plan. The fulfillment of the reservation in schools admissions will however not be a criterion for denial of admission of other children with disabilities.

All the schools in the country will be made disabled friendly by 2020 and all educational institutions including hostels, libraries, laboratories and buildings will have barrier free access for the disabled. Special attention will be given for the availability of Study material for the disabled and Talking Text Books, Reading Machines and computers with speech software will be introduced progressively in addition to an adequate number of Braille books. An adequate number of sign language interpreters, transcription services and a loop induction system will be introduced for the hearing handicapped students. Taking into account the special transportation needs of disabled college students, Universities will be encouraged to introduce Special shuttle services for the disabled.

To support the entire process of inclusive education we are also required to address issues of curriculum and pedagogy. The NCERT is addressing this issue and has set up a group under the National Curriculum Framework Review to examine the pedagogic inputs and class room reorganization required for the education of Children With Special Needs. 

Sensitizing teachers to the requirements of Children with Special Needs will be ensured by regular in-service training of teachers in inclusive education at the elementary and secondary level. In addition a Disability element in the syllabus of pre-service courses such as B.Ed., M.Ed will be strengthened. Towards this end, an MOU has been signed between the National Council for Teachers' Education (NCTE) and the Rehabilitation Council of India leading towards a convergence so as to ensure that all teachers and other resource persons will be enabled to address the diversity of children in the classroom to ensure enrollment and retention.

Selected schools will be converted into a Model Inclusive Schools in order to demonstrate what is necessary and possible; this exercise will then be extended to schools across the country.

Suitable trades and training institutions will be identified for vocational education of the disabled with the help of NCERT and other training mainstream institutions , and the Ministries of Labour, Rural Development and Urban Employment and Poverty Alleviation.

To provide a special focus on disabled students in higher education, all universities will have a Disability Coordinator who will act as a one stop shop for the disabled students and assist them in all their needs. The UGC will assist all universities to establish a separate Department of Disability Studies including modules on foundations of inclusion and on inclusive practices, research and discourse. We also propose to set up a Chair of Disability Studies in the Central Universities, in different Departments as appropriate. We will also examine the possibility of affiliating our leading national institutes working in the area of disabilities with an apex University .  

The National Institutes and Special Schools that exist all over the country would enhance their capacities to match the demand that is placed on them by the Ministry of Human Resource Development. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment will put in place a phased programme of transition for the Special Schools, enabling them to draw on their huge experience in working with children with disabilities and act as agents of change in all schools and to be external partners on physio-, rehabilitation and speech therapy, and support on aids/devices.

The Ministry of HRD will assume nodal responsibility to monitor, guide, facilitate and coordinate the new Action Plan. The Ministry will also be responsible for making an assessment of the additional funds required and for making the appropriate recommendations in this regard. A person/persons with deep experience of inclusive education practices will be nominated to the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) and will, in addition, assist the MHRD and ensure proper implementation of the new action plan. The Ministry will also devise methods to make the implementation of the Action Plan transparent, measurable and accountable and will involve non-governmental experts in monitoring this area of work.              

top of page

Inclusive Education: Action Plan for Inclusive Education of Children and Youth with Disabilities, August 20, 2005

Background

Education of Children and Youth with Disabilities – Policy Perspectives

Goal of Action Plan for Inclusion

Outputs and Strategies

Plan Summary

Common Features of Action Plan for all Sectors

Action Plan

I.      Background

II.    Education of Children and Youth with Disabiities - Policy Perspective

There has been a considerable shift in the understanding of disability, from earlier medical interpretations of seeing disability as a deficit within the individual to that of viewing it in the context of a Human Rights issue.

The National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986 and the Programme of Action (1992) gives the basic policy framework for education, emphasizing the correcting of existing inequalities.  It stresses on reducing dropout rates, improving learning achievements and expanding access to students who have not had an easy opportunity to be a part of the mainstream system.  The NPE, 1986 envisaged measures for   integrating the physically and mentally handicapped with the general community as equal partners, to prepare them for normal growth and to enable them to face life with courage and confidence. 

The 93rd Amendment of the Constitution of India has made education a fundamental human right for children in the 6-14 years age group thereby making it mandatory for all children to be brought under the fold of education. This includes children with disability.

India is a signatory to the Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education (1994) that emphasizes access to quality education for all.  The Statement endorses the need for fundamental policy shifts required to promote the approach to inclusive education, namely enabling schools to serve all children, particularly those with special educational needs by implementing practical and strategic changes.

The Government of India has enacted the legislation Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities and Full Participation) Act, 1995 (PWD Act) to achieve amongst other things, the goal of providing access to free education in an appropriate environment to all learners with disabilities till s/he attains the age of eighteen years.  The Act endeavours to promote the integration of learners with disabilities in mainstream schools.

The National Curriculum Framework for School Education (NCERT, 2000) has recommended inclusive schools for learners with special educational needs by making appropriate modifications in the content, presentation and transaction strategies, preparing teachers and developing learning friendly evaluation procedures.

top of page

Definition of Inclusive Education

In its broadest and all encompassing meaning, inclusive education, as an approach, seeks to address the learning needs of all children, youth and adults with a specific focus on those who are vulnerable to marginalization and exclusion. It implies all learners, young people - with or without disabilities being able to learn together through access to common pre-school provisions, schools and community educational setting with an appropriate network of support services.  This is possible only in a flexible education system that assimilates the needs of a diverse range of learners and adapts itself to meet these needs.  It aims at all stakeholders in the system (learners, parents, community, teachers, administrators, policy makers) to be comfortable with diversity and see it as a challenge rather than a problem.

Research has shown that Inclusive education results in improved social development and academic outcomes for all learners. It leads to the development of social skills and better social interactions because learners are exposed to real environment in which they have to interact with other learners each one having unique characteristics, interests and abilities.   The non-disabled peers adopt positive attitudes and actions towards learners with disabilities as a result of studying together in an inclusive classroom. Thus, inclusive education lays the foundation to an inclusive society accepting, respecting and celebrating diversity.

III.   Goal of Action Plan for Inclusion

Recognising Education for All children as a fundamental right, to ensure the inclusion of children and youth with disabilities in all available mainstream educational settings, by providing them with a learning environment that is available, accessible, affordable and appropriate to help develop their learning and abilities.

Target Group 

  1. Infants and children with special needs in the age group 0-6 yrs.
  2. Children with special needs in the age group 6-14yrs
  3. Young persons with disabilities in the age group 14 - to 21 yrs. who are part of the educational stream

Disability would refer to sensory, physical and intellectual impairments, communication, emotional and behavioral disorders, mental health difficulties and multiple disabilities. It would cover the disabilities as defined under the Persons with Disability Act (1995) and the National Trust Act (1999) :

In the 0-6 yrs, this may also cover all children indicating developmental delay, low birth weight, termed at risk and medical problems that may lead to disabling conditions.

The 6-14 yrs group may also be referred to as Children with Special Needs (CWSN). as under the The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan programme which  guidelines may be taken as a reference point.

top of page

IV.   Outputs and Strategies

The proposed interventions will be made under the overall framework the Programme of Action (1992) of the National Policy on Education (1986), and the People with Disabilities Act (1996).

The Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, will be the nodal agency coordinating the activities.

Outputs

  1. Enrolment and retention of all children with disabilities in the mainstream education system. [Free and compulsory education from 0 to 14 under draft Bill / free education 0 to18 yrs under PWD Act]).
  2. Providing need based educational and other support in mainstream schools to children in order for them to develop their learning and abilities, through appropriate curricula, organizational arrangements, teaching strategies, resource use and partnership with their communities.
  3. Support higher and vocational education through proper implementation of the existing reservation quota in all educational institutions and creation of barrier free learning environments.
  4. Disability focussed research and interventions in universities and educational institutions.

Output No. 1 :  Enrolment and retention of all children with disabilities in the mainstream education system. [Free and compulsory education from 0 to 14 under draft Bill / free education 0 to18 yrs under PWD Act]).

Strategic Intervention:

1.1       Review implementation of existing programmes, provisions to  identify factors leading to success or failure of the drive towards enrollment and retention of children with disabilities in mainstream educational settings. Address administrative issues arising out of review.

1.2       Generating awareness in the general community, persons in the education field and more specifically among parents and children with disability that the disabled have full rights to appropriate education in mainstream schools and that it is the duty of those involved in administration at every level including schools to ensure that they have access to education.

1.3       Ensure enrollment and intervention for all children with special needs in the age group 0-6 years in Early Childhood Care and Education Programs

1.4       Facilitate free and compulsory elementary education for children with special needs in the age group 6-14 (extendable to 18 yrs.) in mainstream education settings currently under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan

1.5        Facilitate transition of young persons with disability wishing to pursue secondary education.

1.6       Ensuring physical access for children and youth with disabilities in schools and educational institutions by enforcing the requirement for provisions of universal design in buildings and provide support in transportation

top of page

Output No. 2 :  Providing need based educational and other support in mainstream schools to children in order for them to develop their learning and abilities, through appropriate curricula, organizational arrangements, teaching strategies, resource use and partnership with their communities.

Strategic Interventions:

2.1     Development of national norms for Inclusive Education, to set standards of implementation, training, monitoring and evaluation for the programme.

2.2        Provide inputs in all pre service and in service training for mainstream and special education teachers to enable them to work with children with disability in an inclusive education system.

2.3       Appropriate Resource services support through appointment of special educators, rehab professionals, provision of resource room, etc to support mainstream schoolteachers in the classrooms.

2.4       Put in place an effective communication and delivery system for specific delivery of teaching/ learning material, aids and appliances, hardware/ software.

2.5        Participation in sports, co-curricular activities, to promote all round ability development

Output No. 3: Support higher and vocational education through proper implementation of the existing reservation quota in all educational institutions and creation of barrier free learning environments.

Strategic Interventions:

3.1       Ensuring physical access for young persons with disabilities  (18 plus age group) in all colleges and educational institutions by enforcing the requirement for provisions of universal design in buildings and provide support in transportation

3.2      Facilitate College and / or vocational education for young persons with disability through proper implementation of existing reservation quota and provision of support for educational material and during examinations.

Output No. 4 : Disability focussed research and interventions in universities and educational institutions.

Strategic Interventions: 

4.1           Setting up of centres for disability studies and chair of disability studies in universities

4.2           Supporting research in areas related to inclusive practices

top of page

V.     Plan Summary

The interventions listed above are in continuation with the efforts of the Government of India towards an Inclusive Education system that provides a conducive and relevant learning environment by accepting the diversity of its client group and adapting to their individual needs.

The focus for this intervention is the inclusion of children and youth with disabilities in mainstream educational institutions.

Two programmes running currently supporting mainstreaming of disabled children are the Integrated Education for Disabled Children (IEDC) and the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. The present attempt will be to complement and supplement these programmes in the movement from Integration to Inclusion.

The plan will concurrently focus on enrollment of children and youth with disabilities and creating an enabling educational environment to support the inclusion process through review and adaptations in curricula, capacity building among various groups ranging from policy makers to education administrators, teachers and parents groups. Pre service and in-service training of mainstream schoolteachers will a prime focus with the disability component included in all teachers training programme.

Recognizing the importance of early intervention in the first five years of life for skill development and learning, Early Childhood Care and Education sector will be seen as an entry point for education for children with special needs. The Department of Women and Child Development of the HRD ministry will focus on this area through their ICDS and all early intervention programmes.

Identification, enrolment and retention of children with special needs in the age group 6-14 will continue as part of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. Existing support and delivery systems developed as part of the ongoing programme will be reviewed and strengthened. Providing physical access by removing architectural barriers in schools and assistance for transportation will be given priority. Removing attitudinal barriers through a range of mass awareness programmes is expected to give a further thrust to the enrollment programme by creating a demand from the parents' side. The Department of Elementary Education, MHRD will be the nodal agency coordinating these activities.

As the country moves towards the universalization of secondary education, the needs of young persons with disability will be included as part of the programme as it evolves. Current activities will aim towards ensuring resource and other support within the education system in order for those wishing to access secondary education. Counselling and resource support will also be extended for those wishing to pursue vocational education at this level. 

At the higher and technical education level, universities and colleges will be monitored to ensure compliance with the 3% reservations. Setting up of disability cells, departments of disability studies will be taken up. The Department of Secondary and Higher Education will be the nodal agency overseeing the activities.

The government will consult with all stakeholders including representatives from Disability Right activist groups, NGOS, parent groups and others, in an attempt to develop a consensus on the understanding of the concept of inclusive education and achieving it within the Indian context. This group will assist the Ministry of HRD in outlining norms and standards for successful inclusion of children and youth with disability in education, identifying resource support required and providing guidelines for changes in teachers training methodology and developing educational assessment and evaluation tools. The recommendations made will become part of the action plan as it develops. The role of the special schools will be reviewed as part of this exercise.

The executing and implementing agency for the project will be the ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. The implementation and interventions will be reviewed at regular intervals by the Joint Secretary  (SE), Department of Secondary and Higher Education, MHRD.

top of page

VI.   Common Features of Action Plan for all Sectors

Phase I – Planning

Step 1:     Strategizing for a National Consensus on best Inclusive practices

Step 2:     Making existing policies and programmes effective and ensuring compliance

Step 3:     Making necessary changes at Policy level to set future directions and build in measures for midcourse corrections.

Phase II – Implementation: Activities arried out at Central and State Level Implementing Agencies

Phase III - Review and revisions