Dakshinpuri is a low socio economic community mostly populated by migrant workers from other Sates in India .If families have children with disability and in particular intellectual disability their situation is aggravated since they have to adapt to differences in language, traditions and even cusine .Children who come to us in our inclusive preschool are identified thorugh house to house surveys and /or through the Health camps we conduct periodically .We are happy to report that although progress is slow children do reach a level where they can be admitted into mainastream schools within the community itself.
One story we would like to share is of Deepa. According to the parents, it was very difficult to take care of Deepika. since she did not develope even head control until she was on and a half yeras old. Neither could she sit , roll over from a supine position.or have eye to eye contact . The father who worked as a daily wage worker recived some money while he had employment but after the contract was over the family suffered greatly until he got another contract.Sadly, the grandparents were not very supportive .So the brunt of taking care of Deepika fell on the mother who being uneduated did noth8ing to seek support services since she ascribed Deepikas condition to karma or destiny a Hindu religious belief.
Deepika wa admitted in SAMADHAN when she was two years old and is five yeras old now. She is a changed child With improved eye hand coordination she can now sit for long periods without any support. , has full neck control,able to hold objects using a palmar grasp and release voluntarily.She can even climb stairs now and identify pictures from a book.She is very much a part of our inclusive preschool and enjoys her time here with us.The most amazing cahnges are also seen inher grandopents who now dote on her Thanks to her mother who gave her unwavering support we have achived much for Deepika .A plus point is that her neighbours and extended family now realize the importance of early intervention .Her mother was give concstant counselling and taught basic physio therapy excercises to do at home.We may not be able to send Deepika to a mainstream school for quite some time but we are trying and so are Deepika and her mother.
Report-Inclusive education for 40 pre-school children
We have started the awareness activities for in our target community at Dakshinpuri which stands as low socioeconomic group. Community survey workers Mrs Babita and Mrs Sarojni are a great resource in identifying the intellectually disabled children and actively involved in creating awareness about inclusive education.There were 412 house to house surveys conducted and 11 families were identified with disabilities in the month of May, June. Meeting with parents of non disabled and disabled children in MCD schools by the facilitators group were held.These meetings helped in creating awareness and positive attitude towards disability and the importance of inclusive education. It emerged that the MCD school & primary school teachers had a negative attitude towards inclusion of disabled children in their schools. This meeting helped in developing more positive attitudes in teachers and parents towards inclusive education.
Formal and informal meetings is being conducted for mothers of the non disabled and women in general from the community .These community women were made aware of intellectual disability and the significance of inclusive education. Puppet shows,street plays turned out to be the effective method of conveying the message to the low socio community. They are happy to send their children along with the disabled children.We are in constant touch with the schools so that the disabled children could be identified and the importance of inclusive education should be realized. we are really responding to the identified needs of the mothers of the disabled as well as the non disabled and the community. So that none of them would be denied the right to education so that our efforts will eventually lead to an inclusive community. We are in the process of preparing the intellectually disabled for admission into local mainstream schools and creating an atmosphere of acceptance in the community and in the local schools to make this happen.
The whole aim of inclusive education is to make the community and local mainstream schools understand and realize that intellectually disabled children should be given the same opportunities for education as their non-disabled peers. However in the low socio-economic community of Dakshinpuri in South Delhi, which is our target area, the community is mostly daily wage workers from the many different States in India and as such they have a limited understanding of this important concept.
So we began by conducting open air awareness activities for the community as a whole. We found that using puppets to convey this message was the best way of getting attention since puppet shows entertain as they educate. This did have the much needed impact since many women came to us to enquirer further about inclusive education and whether "it really works" for children with disability. Most heartening was the response from local mainstream schools and teachers of these schools who wanted to know more about inclusive education. This prompted us to begin a survey of local mainstream schools so that we could begin workshops in these schools and prepare the way for possible admission of children from our own inclusive education unit into these schools once they are academically ready for this step.
We did a survey of 90 mainstream schools and have been able to set up two groups of facilitators from these schools who continue the advocacy for inclusion in their respective schools. The success of our outreach was that 10 schools agreed to admit intellectually disabled children if we refer them and 23 teachers said they would welcome the opportunity to learn how to work with such children.
In our own inclusive education unit we now have 17 children with 11 children who are intellectually disabled and some with multiple disabilities and six children who are non disabled. Some children come to us seeking admission if they are intellectually disabled .Others come after seeing the awareness creating puppet shows. We also share the benefits of inclusive education through our surveys for identification of families with children who are disabled. To reach out to more children who are non disabled we will soon begin to conduct meetings for mothers of the non disabled and women in general from the community. We realize that both the family and the schools have to understand the importance of inclusive education. In April this year we plan to have some mothers of the intellectually disabled share their experiences of how being in the same class room with non disabled children has helped her child.
Since there are no role models here we go from need to need but find that in doing so we are really responding to the identified needs of the mothers of the disabled as well as the non disabled and the community. After all education does not stop at the school gates and hence our inclusion of the community in our efforts so that our efforts will eventually lead to an inclusive community.
We will soon be editing our original project proposal and change the title to "Inclusive Education for 40 intellectually disabled children in local mainstream schools."This covers our own efforts at setting up an inclusive education unit in our Center, preparing the intellectually disabled for admission into local mainstream schools and creating an atmosphere of acceptance in the community and in the local schools to make this happen.
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