DAA News Network

India: "Avevan, Nivedan, Danadan. First we ask, then we write, then we fight." The battle for inclusive education

Posted 29/11-10 at 02.29

Disabled children in India rarely progress beyond primary education, with school enrolment less than 10% in many areas. This reinforces social alienation and leads to very limited employment opportunities and greater poverty.

Because of this and the government's lacklustre efforts on disability, an advocacy movement (MPVN) has sprung up in Madhya Pradesh, central India, fighting for better provision for disabled people and the universal right of all children to attend school.

Two visually impaired boys at schoolThis focus on inclusive education is part of a shift towards adopting the social model of disability. Previously, most disabled people were cared for in special homes or special schools with a focus on medical and palliative support. The new approach is set out by a disabled volunteer who explains: "It's not my wheelchair but the stairs in my school that disable me."

Anand, a visually impaired university student and a regional leader of MPVN, says, "For the last 60 years we've relied on others to fight our battles, and look how far that's got us. We need to empower disabled people themselves to fight for their own rights."

A recent example of this new tack was when 150 members of MPVN went to a local government official with a 10-point plan for improved access, including inclusive education. When the official refused to meet them, they declared a sit-down protest outside his offices, and announced a hunger strike until he came to take the plan. The story made national news, putting the inadequacies of government provision in the spotlight. It also helped to reshape social perceptions of disabled people as active participants in society rather than passive recipients of charity.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/journalismcompetition/disabled-children-education-india

Also see: http://www.indiatogether.org/2010/feb/hlt-uncrpd.htm

 

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