Dr. M.N.G. Mani

Inclusive Education – Means Or End

Dr. M.N.G. Mani

Inclusion is not an option in many developing countries but a compulsion to reach out.  The inclusion concept is expected to acknowledge the diversity present among children in the general classrooms and should address the fact that every child is a special child.  Is it happening in the current system? Certainly not!!! or may be to some extent… but far from adequate.  The current system of inclusion focuses on the special needs of children with disabilities who are helped mostly by special teachers to succeed.  This is educational intervention but not full inclusion….  The ideal inclusion will happen when the general system of education addresses the specific educational needs of all learners without labeling them as those with special needs.  This scenario is ideal but the reality is different….

Ideal inclusion means that there should be perfect coordination between general teachers and specialist teachers in inclusive settings but the current reality is that many inclusive education initiatives work as transplanted special classes within the mainstream education scenario.  It is most desired to see inclusion as a process but lack of proper awareness of the general education system about disabilities is working as a disadvantage to a child with special needs and therefore, in most cases special teachers are compelled to put efforts to realize the concept of inclusion, thereby looking at inclusion as an end.  There is a general compromise that “when the ideal inclusion is not possible, make what is possible the ideal to augment inclusive practices”.

Though all legislations and declarations today talk loudly of inclusion as a process, the reality is far from satisfactory.  How many general educators openly fight with the general education authorities that there should be adequate preparation for pre-service teachers in teaching children with special needs?  The demand for inclusion is growing mostly from special education professionals and not from the general system.  With this attitude of the general system, inclusion will remain as a “programme” and will not become a “movement.” Special education professionals should rather put pressure on the general system to adopt inclusion rather than owning responsibility for inclusion.  Our strong emotion towards inclusion should not cause the general system shirking responsibility for inclusion.

Inclusion will suffer as long as it is looked upon as an end and not a process leading to the end.  Swami Vivekananda said: Take care of the means and the end will take of itself.  Let us focus on the process and the positive end is bound to be achieved.  The presentation will deal about this critical issue of inclusion……