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Breaking the Barriers!

Shivani Arora

By Seamus Hegarty and Mithu Alur
Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2002, pp. 218, Rs. 230.00

By Kavita Shanbhag
English Edition (Publishers and Distributors), 2005, pp. 171, Rs. 195.00

VOLUME XXIX NUMBER 10 October 2005

Individuals with disability continue to be one of the most disadvantaged groups in all our societies. Alongwith their manifest limitations, they are subject to social discrimination, segregated work opportunities and most demeaning of all impoverished educational experiences. Hegarty and Alur address these issues in many ways and engage with the complex phenomenon of disability and its ramifications across different representations of society. Crisply written, it will be of use to the serious student and the lay reader alike. The theme coverage is quite vast and diverse with twenty-two contributors finding expression and articulation of their work.   The book is divided into two separate sections, the first one focusing on the national perspective on policy – the indigenous framework explores the disability discourse in India. The chapters in this section are situated in historical and contemporary context thereby promising genuine insights into various schemes undertaken by the ministry of HRD spanning from National Policy on Education (1986), Integrated Education for Disabled Children (IEDC) and even Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) and painstakingly points to the overall lack of a cohesive governmental stand on the issue, indicating a lack of political will and ideological commitment.   Disabled people have been effectively marginalized and excluded from the mainstream of social life—an aspect largely responsible for inequality in the context of power and social resources. That integration is happening successfully in different parts of the country is reflected succinctly in many chapters of this book in terms of in-service education to teachers, teacher awareness, community sensitization. Pedagogic efforts and non-prescribed and need-specific curriculum which are essential for mainstreaming yet it is akin to a drop in the ocean. However in the absence of clear policy directives, the picture becomes more dismal.   The second section of the book titled – ‘International perspectives on policy and practices’ sheds light on the efforts made by the international community and professes the right of the child to education as a non- negotiable issue and a fundamental human right. Various international declarations are discussed which emphasize “Education for all” and endorse the whole school approach for inclusive education. Appropriate and suitable examples are drawn from Sweden, Denmark and Israel which highlight the ideological considerations, social forces, overall educational goals and an integrative teamwork at the class, school and community level.   Finally, this book actively engages in intersectoral convergence and interdisciplinarity in dealing with children’s problems and understanding their phenomenology. Holistically speaking, ...

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