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Building Confidence through Inclusive Education

karthik in his class
© CBM India
Filled Picture: Karthik (center) in his inclusive school with friends

Karthik is a boy with low vision and he was associated with CBM India inclusive education project since he was in class one till class five. Now Karthik is pursuing his post-graduation in English in Pondicherry Central University. After finishing his Masters, he hopes to progress to Ph. D programme and aims to do his research in English Language Teaching Skills (ELTS). Karthik considers inclusive Education as the most enabling model.

Karthik's family

When Karthik was born, his visual impairment did not deter his parents from deciding that he would be their last child. Karthik’s father Ganeshan runs an auto loom in Coimbatore and his mother is a homemaker; he has an elder sister who is married and is blessed with a daughter. He is the only boy to his parents. He recalls that his parents had always felt proud of him.

First encounter in the school

Karthik was first enroled in a school that never had any facility to support children with disability. No special teachers, teaching materials, equipment or teaching methods were in place to support children like Karthik in the school. The teachers were very sympathetic and used to give him some marks irrespective of what he wrote in his exam papers, this was not helping Karthik.

It was in those days that as a part of local survey, some special teachers from CBM project had visited his home and encouraged his parents to enrol him in the primary school that had adopted Inclusive Education (IE) model. The IE resource centre was supported by CBM India. He was enormously happy in that school as it was very caring and supportive. In fact, the highly specialised and customised assistive devices, braille study materials and equipment supplied by CBM were so enabling and growth-enhancing that many of visually impaired children in that school recognised that their disabilities were on a decline.

The merits of inclusive education

As a result, the intended benefits of inclusive education have distilled down to persons with disabilities like Karthik. They could compete with many normally-abled students and even excel them occasionally. But the greatest gain they got out of inclusive education is not the marks or even jobs, but the right and the courage to inhabit the mainstream social universe as a normal person. Karthik affirms when he says, “with the self-respect and confidence I gained out of achieving excellence in education, I could lay claim to experience the world as every other normal person would. Thanks to the Inclusive Education system. I am now prepared to cope with it. Fortunately, mainstream society too has begun to respond positively to our needs and aspirations, both attitudinally and structurally.”

Karthik growing strong

It is because of the combined effort of all these support systems, that Karthik is now a proud, confident and fondly-respected-by-other students, a M.A English Literature student in Pondicherry Central University. He graduated as a commerce student and deeply dreamt of becoming a management student, so as to take over his father’s business. Yet, his admission to M.A English blows off the bias that our education system still holds for persons with disabilities. These courses are considered ‘softer’ and ‘low-risk’ options for people with disabilities. In that sense, he regrets a bit.

However, he has taken it in his stride. After finishing his Masters, he hopes to progress to PhD programme and aims to do his research in English Language Teaching Skills (ELTS). His desire is to evolve a teaching-learning model, customised especially for the visually challenged that would help fast-forward and enhance the quality of learning experience for his fraternity.

Karthik says ruefully,

“When I used to tell my other friends with visual impairment (who have been educated in special schools) about my aspiration to ride bicycle they used to restrain me by saying it was inappropriate for boys like us to do that. Such barriers of imagination erected by our own modesty and limitations are the biggest challenges - not so much the obstacles of the mainstream society.”


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