Our mission is to strengthen the Inclusive Education programme in government schools through active community involvement. We focus on ensuring that children with disabilities like visual impairments, developmental and learning delays are able to participate equally in learning opportunities.
In India, the Right to Education Act ensures school admissions to all children.
But, a majority of the children who are not studying in schools are children with disabilities. There are many challenges that prevent them from getting fair access to education like accessibility, 'one size fits all' classroom transactions and assessment practices that look at the academic development of a child rather than a holistic development. This one-size fits all policy is difficult for children with disabilities, who may not have received a lot of exposure or focussed attention on their specific needs.The aim of education for all children is to be able to help them develop to their potential enabling their ability to live in harmony with those around them. It should be the same for children with disabilities.
With the aim of improving the existing educational scenario at the primary level in government schools, the Prajayatna project has implemented a unique and inclusive learning approach, the Quality Learning Initiative (QLI) or Kalikayatna in selected government schools focussing on building capabilities of children, including those with disabilities via an experiential way of learning.
The program supports decentralized education structures in taking ownership for ensuring the quality of government schools and high levels of educational outcomes; which include enrolment of all children, good infrastructure, availability of proper teaching staff and quality classroom learning processes. It visualized that the community would be sensitized to the needs of children with disabilities, thereby enabling identification, ensuring enrollment, accessibility to schools and accommodations in the learning process by providing the environment, facilities and opportunities to learn side-by-side with their social peers.
Prajayatna follows a five-pronged approach to accomplish its inclusive education program:
- Meetings are held with the parents, School Management Committee members and the Gram Panchayat to build awareness, discuss issues of the school and solutions sought for children with disabilities. Through these meetings, issues ranging from identification, enrollment and ensuring entitlements are ensured.They will develop and promote provision of facilities and development of the pedagogical support mechanisms necessary for these children in their school development plans.
- Enabling and supporting Gram Panchayats to identify resources necessary for enriching the learning environment of all children and liaising with the Department of Education and other Govt. bodies to ensure all available government schemes reach the children.
- Sensitization of teachers to the needs of children with disabilities, thereby creating a classroom environment which is supportive and enhances the learning for ALL.
- Working with teachers to ensure school is accessible for the children and help them to have a different perspective of the way children learn.
- Apart from workshops and training, there are monthly meetings where they share the specific challenges that they face in their classroom environment. The goal of these meetings is to help develop relevant strategies to address the teacher and students’ needs - about children and how they learn including those with disabilities.
- The teachers are equipped with skills to make inclusive teaching learning materials as well as in ensuring that accomodations are made in the way they facilitate concepts for their understanding.
- Monthly interactions help support each other in developing their facilitation and reflective practices, and help develop the monthly plans.
Effective classroom learning transactions
- Quality Learning Initiative (Kalikayatna) is a learner-centric approach, which focuses on the ‘how’ of learning rather than on the ‘what’ (end product) of the process with the objective of building their abilities and making them self-directed learners. This approach enhances the abilities inherent in the child and this becomes a natural process for the inclusion of children with disabilities.
- Curated assessment methodology for children with disabilities where they are assessed in terms of their development in – motor, socio-emotional, self help skills, cognitive and communication skills. Assessment is a continuous process which gives real time feedback to the learner and teachers and helps them plan the learning process accordingly. Based on this the Individual Education Plans are made for every child with disability - enabling each child to reach their specific learning outcomes, based on their strengths and challenges.
- Ultimately, an ecosystem was created, sensitive to the needs of children with disabilities and ensuring that they are addressed in a manner which nurtures and enhances their capabilities.
- From a parent-child relationship perspective, Kalikayatna focuses on creating an Individual Educational Plan with the parent, teacher and the child.
- Visiting the homes of children with disabilities by the teachers and Prajayatna program members to assess and support the abilities of their caretakers.
- Workshops are held with the parents to equip them with knowledge, information and skills to manage children with disabilities and provide them with opportunities to thrive and grow.
Strengthening the Education System:
- Working with the Dept of Education and Dept of Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities to ensure that camps are conducted. Through these camps, it is ensured that children are given their entitlements – certification, assistive devices, treatment such as surgeries, etc.
- Prajayatna, through its efforts with the Department of Education, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disability and the Health Department has created an environment catered to the needs of children with disabilities.