The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has recommended for providing all children in pre-schools with an “exposure” to sign language to lay the foundation for inclusion.
In the final draft of a model curriculum for the pre-schools, the council has also pitched for ensuring and encouraging gender equality in the pre-schools, emphasising that they can be the best place to start breaking the gender stereotypes.
For this, the teachers “must” demonstrate equal and appropriate expectations from the boys and girls by providing equal attention, respect and equal opportunities.
“They also must select books, plays and other activities free of gender bias, use gender-neutral labels and avoid language that limits a gender,” the council has recommended.
It also calls for regularly sensitising parents to support gender-neutral practices at home.
“Encouraging the development of children with disabilities through early intervention minimises learning difficulties and accelerates child development. It also reduces the expenses by minimising the need for special education services,” the model curriculum observes.
Underlining that early intervention would include a system of services tailored to suit individual needs, that aims to help children directly and also through providing support to their parents, the council suggests that such intervention can be offered at the pre-schools in several forms including speech and language therapy, assisted technology equipment that a child may need.
To ensure inclusion of special children, the council has suggested, the preschools should carry out the early developmental screening of all children and identify their strengths, make adjustments in the physical environment to ensure it is barrier-free, make curriculum flexible and accessible to children with special needs, develop appropriate assessment and evaluation procedures.
“The early years are the most significant years for human growth, development and learning for all children including those with special needs due to disability conditions,” it added.
A Unesco-sponsored study, released last year, had painted a dismal picture of the status of education of children with disabilities in India and called for addressing their needs “sufficiently” with better legal framework and policy initiatives, noting that a significant proportion of such children continue to remain out of school and the drop out rate of those enrolled is increasing every year.