Sankalp's program aids inclusive education
While the resistance to encourage children with learning disabilities/dyslexia and autism spectrum disorder is still prevalent in Indian society — Sankalp, the Open School Learning Centre based in Chennai, has gone beyond just being a lending hand.
The institution provides education and gives them vocational training to ensure their employability to include them as a part of the society.
Sankalp has been involved in remedial instruction catering to children with disabilities since 1999, and has been very successful in their mission. In fact, it has even sent a number of children to mainstream schools and built their competency. But reality dawned in when they contemplated the fate of kids who do not fit into academic mainstreams. That’s when the work skill programme, Sahayika evolved, to train students with vocational skills apart from normal schooling.
“As per the statistics, around 10 per cent of the children in a regular classroom are dyslexic,” said Prema Gnanaolivu, consultant, at a two-day seminar, Learn 2013, on ‘Inclusion through education and Vocation’ held in Chennai on Friday. She added, “They might face severe specific academic difficulties but are talented in other areas. This structured training programme, Sahayika, gives training on skills like communication, problem solving, crisis management, etc and since all this training is given to them under a ‘Simulated workshop setting,’ it helps them to adapt to the real world.”
Prema continues, “This implemented methodology has seen fruitful results in Sankalp where the teachers feel that this has changed the behavioral patterns of the children to a large extent and made them calm and focused. This is a major step towards inclusion, which has been just hypocrisy all this while and Sankalp has been making an effort to make it a reality by spreading awareness through these seminars.”
Two international speakers from the University of Northampton were present to widen people’s understanding on special children. Richard Rose, Professor of Inclusive Education and Director of the Centre for Education and Research Northampton, UK, who have been working with Sankalp since 2000, commended the expertise of the trainers in India and their efficiency in transforming lives. Although, praising the effort of initiating a drive for inclusion, Professor Richard feels that India’s diversity could hamper the progress.
“The ability of the trainers in India has been extraordinary and they are bringing in cutting edge skills in this field which is on par with the training provided for special child in UK or Europe,” he said. But added, “It is equally important that every institute like Sankalp should network, coordinate and disseminate information. Lack of such activities will relatively slow the progress. There is a need for lobbying, If not national level lobbying, at least state level it is necessary,” the professor said.