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The future of education is here

An ed-insider's take on inclusive education


Reyan Mishra

Dec 22, 2020

Beta testing is crucial when it comes to certain products, but the same can’t be mandated for learning children. “No kid is broken – they don’t need no repairment. All that can add shine to them comes from education and understanding,” says the Chief Convener of the special education needs children (SEN) empowerment organization, Elina , Ramalakshmi Kannan. This is just one piece of many interesting view-sets of Rama on the subject of inclusion in schools and elsewhere.

Down below is the upstanding record of the interview with Rama that has been sketched out to bring the true belief behind inclusive education to light.

Reyan: Inclusiveness can’t be standardized so it must be hard to instigate and maintain an entirely inclusive environment. How do you believe organizations can ensure inclusiveness in classes ?

Rama: To achieve inclusiveness, we look at the larger perspective as opposed to specific environment setup such as primary, secondary schools, colleges where one class of thoughts or objective is fostered. We enjoy the virtue to project a child’s future based on his current thought process, abilities, and aspirations (i.e. dream mapping). The process is quite useful in giving a learner a suitable learning environment that makes them feel happy, confident, and content about their choice. Additionally, our approach involves breadth-, length-wise thinking to consider everything that may concern the child before taking any decision.

Reyan: Most people confuse the terms mainstreaming and inclusiveness, right? How would you say these two terms are different?

Rama: To me, it is just vocabulary. Mainstreaming is a concept that organizations choose to be affiliated with. Simply put, where the majority goes becomes mainstreamed. However, when we talk about inclusiveness there should be a complete absence of mainstreaming because the moment you say this term, you subconsciously highlight another group that’s not it. In a 100% inclusive setup, there is nothing that’s given preference over the other. I think it’s a vocabulary widely used for ease of understanding, but ideally, mainstreaming shouldn’t exist under an inclusive setup.

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Reyan: How do you suggest organizations can help students with special needs who also have a personal, familial, or financial situation going on?

Rama: There are intersectionalities in many cases. Children with disabilities hail from different backgrounds – financially, socially, and in other forms such as they may have only one parent or they may be facing other kinds of hardship. There are provisions being made by the government to support students with disabilities, financially and materialistically such as an earpiece in case of a child with hearing impairment. Although the supporting provisions have been made, the implementation has been very ineffective which is taking its toll on children who are far from the privileges. To ensure the proper implementation it’s imperative to develop accountability. Given the clear accountability is developed, I think the parents of children will know where to go for what kind of aid. The first thing is to make them aware of organizations and schemes that are designed to aid them in any sphere they may need assistance and then the process of how they can connect with them.

Reyan: What advice would you give to parents and teachers of students with disabilities?

Rama: First off, both parents and teachers must understand that children are not broken. If they are not able to do something it’s not because they are broken or incapable, it is just because the environment is not conducive. If parents know what makes their child happy they can give them a fostering atmosphere where the likelihood of success is high. Instead of pushing them to do things taking lead from the societal standards, parents and teachers can allow them to discover their own interests in order to grow.

I like to explain this with an example: There are people who wake up at 4:30, people waking up at 6:30 by an alarm clock, people seeing the sun at the smell of idli or coffee, and another set of people who get off the bed around 10:00 no matter what. Now for a person who naturally wakes up at 6, 7, or 10 for whatever reason, an alarm clock won’t make any difference. Why not provide everybody with idli, coffee, and an alarm clock, because there is somebody who is going to be benefitted from it.

This way you are not doing anything special for anybody, it’s available for everybody and they all are equal. Being a teacher myself, I think the ability to see everyone equally is what educators need to have.

Reyan: What is your guiding philosophy on inclusion in schools?

Rama: It is simple we don’t have the right to include or exclude anybody. If children want to have the opportunity, they must have the relevant platform for the same. Lev Vygotsky, a famous Soviet psychologist widely known for his work on psychological development in children, proposed that everybody has a zone of proximal development. You, I, and everybody have certain interests that are very natural to us. For example, I may be inherently good at mathematics and you ask me to do anything in this subject, the likelihood is high I’m going to do good. The same is with the children with disabilities, they like the rest of us just need that extra push. That may come in the form of conversation, guidance, and tuition, etc. In simple terms, give the children with special needs the playground they want to play on and everything will go well and positive.

Closing remarks from Rama: I think it’s good to talk about inclusiveness in society. Talking does a lot to change, in ways we can’t really understand. More discussions on the topic of inclusiveness will actually make everyone comprehend the base ideology beneath the concept - which will ultimately endow the world with a forward inclusive slant.

That circle isn’t complete yet, coming up soon is another article based on the interview with an SEN alumnus, so stay tuned for more actionable insights on inclusiveness.

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