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Make quality education accessible to every child: Diethono Nakhro


KOHIMA, NOVEMBER 22: An education system that takes into consideration the needs of all children including children with disabilities can become a reality only when all of us come together to get a better understanding and formulate an approach poised towards the rights, aspirations and potential of all children, said the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs), Diethono Nakhro at a webinar on Awareness on inclusive education that was organised by Nagaland Board of School Education and office of the State Commissioner for PwDs on November 22.

Delivering the keynote address to departmental officials and school representatives from across the State, Nakhro said that in principle all children have the right to education but in practise children with disabilities are disproportionately denied this right. Majority of the children with disabilities all over the world do not go to school, she said.
Pointing out that even if the children do attend school, they are more likely to drop out and leave school early before transitioning to secondary school and beyond. It is not because they can’t learn or they don’t want to be at school but they are kept out because of the numerous barriers they face such as negative attitudes, inaccessible environment, lack of reasonable accommodations, lack of trained teachers and suitable curriculum, she added.
“When it comes to the State of Nagaland, we have to be brutally honest and acknowledge that disability in general was totally neglected for the past many years. Therefore, all matters concerning children with disabilities including education was also neglected as well”, stated Nakhro.
She maintained that the present approach to the education of children with disabilities in the State is being looked at like an addition of an appendix to an existing framework of rules will solve the problem. The time has come to change this kind of situation, she added.
She also talked about the importance of initiating a conversation and with the implementation of the New Education Policy in focus. The idea of equity and inclusion is now at the heart of the NEP, the policy is designed to avoid segregation and isolation of ethnic and linguistic minorities.

“However, though the laws and the policies may be top-notch, what will matter is how it is implemented and put into practise on the ground ultimately”, stated Nakhro.
She also highlighted the prominent role which the Government of Nagaland has to play in terms of making quality education accessible to every child.
Education is a concurrent subject whereby the State also has a big say in how we make the policy work in our context and so this is the right time to ensure that our education system becomes fully inclusive, Nakhro added.
She further reiterated that whenever there is a meeting or a conversation regarding quality and inclusive education, an inclusive education specialist needs to be at the table.
“We cannot continue making the education of our children with disabilities an afterthought”, she said.
Imploring that the overall aim has to be an inclusive education system, a system where all children, both disabled and non-disabled are able to come together to learn and grow in the same classroom, Nakhro stressed that inclusive education is not about a separate programme for children with disabilities but “it is about bringing every child into the same classrooms instead of further segregating and isolating them.”
Nakhro also pointed out the futility of Acts and policies until and unless they are implemented properly. She said that the rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016, which is an overarching framework of laws for the rights of PwDs in the country clearly provides through Section 16 that all education institutions funded or recognised by the State Government shall provide inclusive education to children with disabilities. These sections were notified by the Department on March 20, 2020, which effectively means that all educational institutions funded or recognised by the State Government should now be necessarily following the inclusive education system.

However, merely issuing a notification does not automatically make something happen so without putting the required mechanisms in place, inclusive education will just remain on paper while our children with disabilities continue to be ignored and excluded from our education system, stated Nakhro.
Stating the apparent state of affairs in the State in terms of quality education for every child, she said that currently many children are left behind like they don’t matter and they don’t exist. “This is unacceptable and we need to have more of this conversation so that we start understanding inclusive education and how to bring our children with disabilities into the system”, she said.
Earlier, during the Webinar, Chairman NBSE, Asano Sekhose, in her welcome address, said that “When we talk about inclusive education, we mean that quality education is made accessible to all students in such a manner by accepting and by being responsive and supportive of the diverse needs of our children.”
The education we provide must aim to include inclusiveness and equity in our curriculum and assessment, and we should have teachers who can take care of the needs of our children with disabilities inside the classroom, she added.
Special Secretary, Department of School Education, Kevileno Angami also briefly addressed the webinar and spoke on the need to review the many challenges that hamper the State in ensuring quality and inclusive education to all. She said that first and foremost attention is needed in the interpretation of inclusiveness. There is still a lot of confusion even among well meaning people when it comes to an inclusion. The perspective of what an inclusive education is has to be said right, she added.
(Page News Service)