#Vote4Children – What 14-Year-Old Bharadwaj Thinks Of Inclusive Schools For Children

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1. Do you understand what one means by ‘disability’?

Why do we always view ‘disability’ as a physical or mental limitation, that hinders our thoughts, movements, senses, or daily activities? Don’t we all feel crippled at times in our life? I’ve always viewed persons with disabilities as specially-abled. Unlike most of us living an average, normal lives, specially-abled people go to school, work, have families, laugh, cry, play like everyone else despite certain disabilities. Doesn’t that mean they are more special? Why then does the world see persons with disabilities as a liability?

2. Do any children in your class have disabilities? Tell us about it.

So, one of my friends in school has just finished giving his board exams. He is a specially-abled boy – he can walk, but he is slow and often needs a helping hand. He can write but not very quick. But he is very intelligent. And he loves drawing. 

3. How does your school cater to the needs of children with disabilities? Narrate an incident. 

Since we were doing our boards, my school took the initiative to arrange a scribe (from amongst 8th and 9th-grade students) to write down his answers during exams. All of us were involved in helping him out during exams. This was a great example set up by my school to bring a positive attitude towards disability and promote inclusiveness. 

Our school has been very supportive since the beginning… from the school management, to the school helpers who carry him and his belongings to class everyday, to even his classmates and friends… we all are involved in helping him whenever needed. 

4. What must schools in India do to make the future of children with disabilities more secure? With the elections coming soon, how do you think the Government can help to make schools more inclusive for disabled children?

While there are a few schools like mine, we as a nation have a long way to go. First and foremost, people’s attitudes towards specially-abled people and children needs to shift from sympathy and pity to empathy. 

Secondly, the government needs to work towards ensuring barrier-free spaces and environments for the learning of students with disabilities. That will begin by simply taking a step to ensure that there is no separate classroom for specially-abled students, instead integrate them into the mainstream. 

Additionally, more funds should be allocated by the government to schools to make them disabled-friendly like building ramps and separate toilets…that’s how we can really build inclusive and child-friendly schools. The only reservation we as Indians, should demand currently is for specially-abled … be it in schools, institutions or at workplaces. And that would be an Inclusive India, in the true sense. 

Bharadwaj is 14 years old and is currently studying in 10th grade at Sri Sri Ravishankar Vidya Mandir, Mumbai. 

Photo Credits : Vipul Kumar

Words By : Vipul Kumar

Vipul Kumar is a connoisseur of arts and good food, enjoys comics and sports and doodles occasionally. You can follow him on instagram.

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