As the teaching-learning process is moving towards a learner-centric approach along side the proliferation of technology use in class rooms, there is a conscious need to foster compassion, inclusion and ensure accessibility within the education system. Teachers play a significant role in shaping young minds as role models, particularly in today’s times.
A panel discussion on Compassion, Inclusion, and Accessibility in Education was organized as part of the four-day Holistic Leadership in Education training program organized by Ayudh at the Amritapuri campus on June 16. Over 100 educators from the Department of Education (DOE) and the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) in Delhi actively participated in the event.
The panel was moderated by Dr. Prema Nedungadi, Associate Dean, School of Computing, C20 Coordinator of Education and Digital Transformation (EDT) Working Group.The panellists were Dr. Jayanthi Narayan, Br. Mokshamrita Chaitanya, Sel Shah and Dr. Rajlakshmi Kanjilal.
Dr. Nedungadi touched up on the key are as that the EDT Working Group focused on. Adding a significant area is disability inclusion in main stream education to ensure accessibility to education for all while reducing the gender divide in education is something that Chancellor and C20 Chair, Amma, has been leading change towards through various initiatives at the university and the school level.
Dr. Jayanthi Narayan serves as a Visiting Professor at the University of North ampton in the UK. Dr. Narayan emphasized that a lack of awareness to be addressed can lead to cultivating empathy and understanding in society toward persons with disabilities. She also highlighted that the rights of individuals with disabilities, particularly the right to education, must be prioritized. Additionally, she highlighted the importance of implementing Universal Design for Learning (UDL) since it promotes inclusive education in its true sense, as it advocates for equity and quality.
The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has introduced supportive systems for inclusive education as a mark of a progressive measure under taken by the government. She emphasized the importance of aligning policies, creating awareness, and through the collaborative efforts of general teachers. She highlighted that one significant outcome we observe in society is the transition from special schools to inclusive education, which has had a significant impact.
Br. Mokshamrita Chaitanya, a monk and disciple of Amma and National Coordinator AYUDH, said that disability is often perceived negatively and highlighted the importance of shifting perceptions. He emphasized the need to cultivate a culture of helpfulness among students, which would lead to their overall development. He proposed that teachers must receive special training , and we must learn from the training at schools in Delhi that focuses on building a bright future for all children.
Selina Shah is an Education for Life (E4Life) PhD student at Amrita School for Sustainable Development with nearly 20 years of experience teaching in both special and main stream schools. Sel shared her in sights into autism and the challenges children with autism face in communication, interaction, and behavior. An important point raised was the significant role technology plays in supporting students with autism.She stressed on the need to equip teachers with knowledge and skills to support children with autism effectively.
Dr. Rajlakshmi Kanjilal, a Project Manager at Amrita CREATE, shared her lived experience. She shared how parental support and guidance from Amma helped her complete her education. She urged educators to create a classroom climate that empowers and encourages neuro divergent students to build confidence by building on their strengths. Leveraging technological tools can make resources accessible and classrooms more inclusive by designing learning experiences that motivate learners with learning differences.
Achieving inclusive education necessitates a shift in societal attitudes, alongside the scaling of well–trained teachers who prioritize quality training. The panel emphasized the importance of further promoting inclusion and emphasized that society must proactively embrace inclusive schools, providing unwavering support to children.