Global Perspectives, Experiences and Implications
CHAPTER TEN: Accessing Inclusive Education: Family Stories from India: Srikala Naraian & Poonam Natarajan
Srikala Naraian & Poonam Natarajan
The education of students with disabilities in India has mostly occurred within special schools and institutions (Hegarty & Alur, 2002). Even as the field of special education in India continues to grow rapidly, it is the rhetoric of inclusive education that has captured an important place within national discourse (Alur & Timmons, 2009). It has been argued that the absence of an entrenched special education system renders irrelevant to the Indian context the conceptual shift that has marked the evolution of discourses in the North, that is, from segregation to integration to inclusion (Jangira, 2002). Instead it offers an opportunity to focus more completely on the transformation of existing educational systems Yet even though India became a signatory to the 1994 Salamanca Statement,1 the country has struggled to match the rhetoric of inclusive education injected into major programming and policy with the onerous task of implementation in a context where “inclusive” must encompass children with disabilities, street children, girl children, working children, and children from the dalit “untouchable” caste, all of whom are considered to be populations “at risk” (Kalyanpur, 2008a). Students with disabilities constitute almost 40% of all out-of-school children in India (World Bank, 2007).
While Northern conceptions of inclusive education emphasize a “whole-school” approach (Ainscow & Miles, 2008), that is, the transformation of schooling structures to create classrooms that can be hospitable to a wide range of students, the emergent trend in programming in India reflects a dual-system...