Education for children with disabilities within mainstream schools in India: A case study of inclusive teaching and learning

There is a significant lacuna in understanding pedagogical practices adopted by mainstream schools to include all learners (children with disabilities and typically developing children) and its implementation within the classrooms. There is a need to look at mainstream schools that are consciously and actively making an effort to promote inclusive teaching and learning. My research focus is to critically examine the teaching and learning strategies that are practiced by teachers to teach children with disabilities in mainstream government schools. These schools are run by Muktangan in Mumbai, India under a public-private agreement with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM). They follow a constructivist approach to education and have had a special education needs department since 2006. Their vision is to enable their schools to become “an inclusive, empowered world in which all live with harmony with freedom of expression, respect and with integrity.” Thus, as Muktangan has been promoting an established inclusive model of education within the public education system, it provided the optimal environment to pursue my research.

This research is a case study using in-depth interviews and classroom observations with students, teachers, and stakeholders. It involved interviewing teachers to understand what teaching and learning strategies they practice within the classroom along with the challenging and facilitating factors in teaching a classroom that includes all learners. I also interviewed students (both typically developing and children with disabilities) to understand their opinion of the classroom and their social environment. In addition, I carried out classroom observations to understand the teaching and learning processes within these classrooms.

My research throws light on what pedagogical structures are being used in these schools to include all learners using the available resources. These schools have a diversity of learners with differences in language, socio-economic backgrounds, presence of children with disabilities and typically developing students within the same classrooms. It challenges Northern ideas of how mainstream inclusive schools in resource constrained contexts function. In addition, it also encapsulates the different ways the teachers, students and stakeholders are trying to promote inclusion in a way that goes beyond just children with disabilities. It also presents the various challenges that teachers and students face on the road to inclusion and the ways the school environment facilitates inclusion.

Duration: 2016 – ongoing

Funding Body: Cambridge Trusts

Publications:

  • Nath.S (2018). Full paper presentation at ‘Comparative Education and Development Alternatives : Critiques, Innovations and Transitions’ in the British Association for International and Comparative Education (BAICE) Conference 2018, University of York, York.
  • Nath, S. (2018). The Road from Pilot Research to Fieldwork. FERSA blog.
  • Nath, S (2017). Poster presentation at ‘Cambridge-Oxford Education Conference’ organised by Faculty of Education Research Students Association, University of Cambridge and Department of Education, Oxford, University of Cambridge, Cambridge

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