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Barely a fortnight after an 8-year-old disabled child was caned mercilessly by his teacher, a study by India's Human Development College of Home Science, Nirmala Niketan, conducted in 2013 throws some light on the challenges faced by teachers regarding inclusive education.
The study was a minor research project submitted by Priya Aranjo, a student pursuing her M.Sc degree in Counselling and Family Therapy from IGNOU. Aranjo was guided by Dr Kamini Rege, assistant professor, College Of Home Science, Nirmala Niketan.
Having to juggle multiple roles simultaneously – including creating different strategies to accommodate both, children with disabilities and regular students – many researchers state that a teacher is one of the key persons in the implementation of inclusive education. It is because of this that the study attempts to elicit from the preschool and primary school teachers the challenges faced and strategies to overcome. Teachers of these levels were chosen because it is at this stage that children learn to accommodate and adapt to change.
In the survey, 50% participants said that it was more of a balancing act of catering to both types of students, the huge class size, time constraints, lack of training due to which they find it difficult to understand the child with disability and lastly, dealing with the apprehension of the parents of fully-abled students. On the other hand, 40% participants said that they find it difficult to give the required attention to a child with disability without neglecting the remaining students and isolating disbaled students.
Dr. Kamini Rege said: "Few participants (15%) said that students with special needs are often misunderstood and they feel neglected as not enough support and attention is given by the teacher. A less amount of participants (10%) said that lack of assistive devices, infrastructure and trained personnel is a challenge for the student with special needs."
Arundhati Chavan, united forum president, parents teachers association, said: "The teachers who have done their B.Ed course five years ago may be facing problems in dealing with disabled children. Another problem they face is a larger number of students in classroom, because of which they may not be able to give attention to disabled children. The education department needs to come up with some training for teachers on inclusive education."