Dr. (Mrs.) Uma Tuli

Inclusive Education: Beyond the Rhetoric

Dr (Mrs) Tuli Uma

Inclusive education as a concept has been with us for several decades. The time is ripe to introspect how to accelerate acceptance, implementation and foster excellence in practical terms. This presentation aims to highlight how to go beyond the rhetoric and theoretical precepts and move towards universalization of inclusive education.

A real-life success story fostering excellence in inclusive education will form the backdrop. A growing tree will be utilized as a metaphor for illustrating the beginnings, struggles and maturing of inclusive education at Amar Jyoti – a Delhi based non-government organization implementing a comprehensive vision of inclusive education.

The seeds from which the endeavour took root including the starting vision, the will and resolve to carry out the vision, the garnering of knowledge and expertise whether it be personal or from others. The trials that the seed faced in taking root will form the backdrop for describing some of the challenges of inclusive education with reference to the situation in India.

The expanding trunk of the tree will describe experiences of realising and maturing of the Amar Jyoti Charitable Trust. The audience will be invited to participate in the journey of Amar Jyoti’s growth through thirty-seven years from the small beginnings in a humble building in central Delhi to the present day multi-complex establishment and the branching of an additional facility in Gwalior – a small town in central India.  The comprehensive approach encompassing all that is essential for educating with a difference starting from the earliest age possible will be illustrated. The mantra of convergence of resources, success of the holistic and team approach will be elaborated.  The challenges faced on this journey as the profile of the children changed will be described.  Initially Amar Jyoti started with children with orthopaedic challenges. Over time this focus increased to include children with learning difficulties as well as those with hearing and visual problems. From the beginning though the concept of integration having almost an equal number of children with disabilities and those from financially challenged families has been maintained.

The flowers and fruit that the Amar Jyoti tree is yielding today is evident in the nationally and globally recognized accomplishments of its students and the contributions of the well settled alumni who are contributing in various fields as responsible citizens.

The presentation will conclude with a global perspective on the varying and evolving needs and approaches that are required for fostering excellence through inclusive education in differing socioeconomic circumstances.