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Call for ‘inclusive spirit’ in new education policy

Girl with visual impairment address audience on new education policy
© CBM India
Juli representing children with disabilities in Shikshagiri.

Children from different parts of India recently came together in the national capital from 23rd to 26th July 2016, to develop recommendations for the new National Education Policy.

The consultation was significant as children, including children with disabilities from CBM supported projects, came together for three days to pool their experiences, struggles, and expectations from the new policy. The groups looked at education in its wider context, while highlighting the role of community, teacher, and parents in the process.

Inclusion as a basic framework

Juli, a 13 year girl with visual impairment wearing dark glasses standing in front of a notice board ©CBM India
Juli, from CBM partner Prerna in West Bengal, emerged as a strong voice for inclusion and participation of children with disabilities.
A panel of 20 children, mostly from rural communities, made a presentation on the various discussions and recommendations for the new National Education Policy open for public inputs up to 15th August 2016.

The children’s panel called for the spirit of inclusion to be made a bedrock of the national education policy. It felt that education as a process must address the discrimination and inequality that exists in our society. For instance, the children pointed out that caste discrimination is one of the most painful encounters that they have to undergo inside the school. This they felt needs to be addressed through the new National Education Policy.

On the specific aspect of education of children with disabilities, the panel unanimously called for a strong focus on mainstream education with all children studying and learning in the same setting.

One of the participants Juli, from CBM partner Prerna in West Bengal, emerged as a strong voice for inclusion and participation of children with disabilities. The 13­year old with vision impairment, led the presentation and as became evident over the day, she had a strong impact on other children in terms of understanding the entitlements of children with disabilities.

Juli comes from Washabari Tea Garden in Siliguri in West Bengal. She had to drop out of school and started working as she lost her father few years back. But she received support from the CBM partner to resume her schooling in a government school near Siliguri.

Ajay, 18, from Kothaba in Gujarat comes from a community of snake charmers but as the practice has been banned under the wildlife protection act, this has left the community criminalised. The young man who wants to go to college cited the stigma and discrimination he has faced at school, especially the way the teachers engaged with him and even his parents. He said the teachers, as well as students referred to him as Madari, the name of his family’s traditional profession.

Creating a buzz

The three ­day consultation saw participation from organisations and education networks to create a collective vision for the new National Education Policy.

Titled #Shikshagiri, the event was coordinated and hosted by Praxis and supported by CBM, ActionAid, CRY among others. A social media campaign was organised to create awareness on various aspects related to education as a right, issues of inclusion, quality, and financing of education.

The high point of the social media engagement was a Twitter chat that followed the panel presentation of the workshop. The social media chat provided an opportunity to citizens to raise critical questions about education policy and get a response from organisations and experts working on making the Right to Education entitlement a reality.

Click here to read the report and the recommendations
Thumbnail for video "Winning combination of cricket and inclusion" Thumbnail for video "Winning combination of cricket and inclusion"

Winning combination of cricket and inclusion

Message by India’s T20 Blind Cricket Team on celebrating CBM India’s winning combination of cricket and inclusion.

Thumbnail for video "Why Vidya must go to school" Thumbnail for video "Why Vidya must go to school"

Why Vidya must go to school

We all feel very strongly about the need of education for enabling children to find opportunities and addressing development challenges of the country


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