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Make education system fully inclusive — Nagaland State Commissioner for PwDs

By Reyivolü Rhakho Updated: Nov 06, 2021 7:50 pm
Diethono Nakhro addressing a workshop on inclusive education in Kohima on Tuesday. (EM Image)

Our Correspondent
Kohima, Oct. 26 (EMN): Nagaland State Commissioner for Persons with Disability (PwDs), Diethono Nakhro on Tuesday said that the government should make education fully inclusive.

“With education being a concurrent subject whereby the state also has a huge say in how we make the policy work in our context, this is absolutely the right time to ensure that our education system becomes fully inclusive,” she said during a workshop on inclusive education, held in Kohima.

“The approach to education of children with disabilities currently is basically an appendix, an afterthought that is added after everything is said and done. This is not acceptable. Inclusion has to be on the table as we discuss and plan the overhauling of the education system and inclusive education specialists have to be at the table to give their valuable inputs. We cannot continue making the education of our children with disabilities an afterthought,” she added.

She said that children with disabilities are one of the “most marginalised and excluded groups” in the society. In many ways, they continue to be the ‘uncounted’ section of society; all matters concerning children with disabilities, including education, are completely neglected, she added.

‘One of the biggest challenges for children with disabilities, and PwDs in general, is lack of data. We simply do not have any proper information or data on questions like – how many (PwDs) are there? How many are out of school? How many have assistive technologies to aid their education? In what manner do their disabilities hinder their education?’ she said.

“The time to change all these has come. We cannot allow this situation to continue – and all concerned departments and organisations, stakeholders need to come together to make the change happen,” said Nakhro.

The new NEP is designed to avoid segregation and isolation of ethnic and linguistic minorities, those with disabilities and also those who face learning difficulties due to language barriers and are at the risk of educational exclusion.

However, she observed that the policy may be top-notch but what will matter ultimately is how it is implemented and put into practice on the ground.

The overall aim, now, has to be about an inclusive education system, a system where all children, disabled and non-disabled, come and learn together in the same classroom, she said.

The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 also clearly states in Section 16 that all educational institutions funded or recognised by the state government shall provide inclusive education to children with disabilities. The steps to be taken towards this end have been laid out in relevant sections and sub-sections, she informed.

‘These sections were notified on March 30 2020 in Nagaland which means that all educational institutions funded or recognised by the state government should now be following the inclusive education system,’ she said, adding that she was unsure if it is implicated and if schools are even aware of this notification.

“Without putting the mechanisms in place, inclusive education will just remain on paper while children with disabilities continue to be ignored and excluded from education system – left behind like they don’t matter,” she pointed out.

‘Give children the confidence they require’

Principal Director of School Education, Shanavas C, said that when it comes to inclusive education, the data is not at all accurate, especially in the rural areas. Nagaland is no different when it comes to collection of data for children with special needs, he added.

Sharing his past experience as an administrative officer in various districts of the state, he said that many parents and guardians do not want their children (with special needs) to be exposed. ‘They don’t want the world to know that their child has a disability. But, it is time to give children with special needs the confidence they require. This has to start from early childhood,’ he said.

‘To achieve inclusive education, there is a need for convergence and co-operation of departments at the state level,’ he said while assuring government’s support.

Chairman of Nagaland Board of School Education (NBSE), Asano Sekhose informed that number of children with special needs at the HSLC and HSSLC as in 2021 is 15.

She also stressed on the importance of baseline survey that needs to be taken up on a prior basis.

Other resource persons of the workshop included Kopele Tepa, Special Educator at Bumblebee Inclusive School; Nzanbeni Tsopoe, Vice Principal of Chandmari Higher Secondary School; and Themmungla Raman, Clinical Psychologist, the Cloud Room.

The one-day workshop was organised by the office of the State Commissioner for Persons With Disabilities in collaboration with Bumblebee Inclusive School.

By Reyivolü Rhakho Updated: Nov 06, 2021 7:50:29 pm