International Youth Day 2019: Making education inclusive

August 12, 2019

When it comes to inclusivity, education should not be left behind. Inclusive education is one that welcomes students irrespective of class, age or any physical challenges they may have. When students receive proper support that will help achieve success in the curriculum, when a classroom helps students with or without disabilities to participate and be competent, inclusivity will be achieved.

According to a study published by the National Institute for Learning Development, “People with learning disabilities have average to superior intelligence. Many are gifted in math, science, fine arts, journalism, and other creative fields. A list of such people would include Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Winston Churchill, and many others who have changed the course of our world.”

A successful inclusive education happens when the society accepts, understands, and attends to student despite differences and diversity. The main aim should be make all students feel welcomed and support their efforts.

International Youth Day 2019:

Observed as International Youth Day, August 12 serves as a celebration of the role of young people, who are essential in bringing change to the society and the ones who help in raising awareness of the challenges and problems faced by the youth all over the world.

The theme for International Youth Day 2019 is ‘Transforming Education‘, which, according to the United Nations, aims to highlight the efforts “to make education more inclusive and accessible for all youth, including efforts by youth themselves.” This helps in ensuring “inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

Elaborating on the significance of this day, UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres said, “Today, we celebrate the young people, youth-led organisations, governments and others who are working to transform education and uplift young people everywhere.”

So let’s take a look at what the youths of today have to say about India’s transformation with respect to the education system.

“The education system in India needs to shift from role learning to practical and application-based reasoning that syncs with today’s workforce,” says Ankita Dhar, 25, a PR professional based out of Bangalore. She further added, “Focus should be on the overall development rather than just academics. Thus, I see many initiatives adopted by various institutions to boost students socially and morally beyond classroom studies. I also believe that Emotional Quotient (EQ) is necessary to inculcate in students to have a positive mental outlook on life.”

Sarah Samuel, who passed out of Hebron School, Ooty this year and her friend Patsakorn Naowaphongrat believes there is a need for better teachers, “The teaching profession should not be something ‘failures’ take up. Without genuine love and care for students, teachers cannot teach efficiently. Students learn by example. If their teachers are passionate, they will also be passionate.”

“Education should never be about installing information in the brain. Human beings are not computers. They make computers, that is, their capacity for creativity must be honed,” Samuel adds.

Samuel’s friend and classmate, Raaya de Silva thinks classrooms should, “Use more technology and keep up with the changing times. Having education that explores a wide range of topics unrestricted to the country. For example, World History rather than just the country’s history.”

Priyanjana Roy Das, 26, a journalist, now based in Hyderabad says, “Education, I believe, is moving away from the traditional confines of classroom programmes and finding itself in spaces it hasn’t explored earlier. For instance, a school in Sikkim made it to the headlines for encouraging kitchen gardening among its students. Also, a school in Gurgaon took up quite an interesting project – growing hydroponic plants in a soilless environment. With emphasis on these kinds of exercises, students are not only gaining practical knowledge but are also better equipped to understand and come up with green solutions in the near future.”

“According to me, the education system has traveled quite far in terms of opportunity. In the sense, for someone who wants to get into IIT’s, the way of preparation has advanced through the years. But the bad side of this transformation is that it increases a child’s mental stress a lot. The institutions pressurise the students too much,” says Reishna Mukherjee, a BSc student at Christ University, Bangalore.

Providing a positive environment in a classroom and a sense of belonging, helps in ensuring an overall progress in students including their personal, social and emotional growth. An inclusive educational environment that nurtures the individual potential of students from different ethnicities, cultural and religious backgrounds and learning abilities is crucial for the developmental of society as a whole.

Sukanya Nandy

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