Reena Sen and Jai Ranjan Ram conduct a workshop on inclusive education. Picture by Arnab Mondal
Ramps, handrails and accessible toilets, while necessary, aren’t enough; inclusion must come from the heart — this was the lesson at a workshop conducted by the School of Human Genetics and Population Health to sensitise educators about handling children with disability.
Educators from 12 schools, the deputy director of school education, Niloy Roy, and the state intensive education co-ordinator, Sukanta Goswami, attended the event, where Jai Ranjan Ram, a psychiatrist, and Reena Sen, the executive director of Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy, were the main speakers.
“I teach in an inclusive school. But I often feel that we are not adequately equipped to handle them (children with disability). We are here to learn how to build a more sensitive environment at school,” said Sudeshna Sanyal, a teacher at Al Khor International School in Qatar, who attended the workshop along with her colleague, Rosy Anwar.
Sen explained how inclusion was not possible unless educators, parents and students had the right attitude. “Inclusion starts from the heart,” she said.
Hopeful that positive changes were slowly taking shape in the education sector, she said government and government-aided schools were getting ready for inclusion in a more systematic manner than private institutions. “The sensitisation process is happening in bits and parts in the private sector,” she said.
Corroborating Sen’s statement, the deputy director of school education said: “We have already built ramps, handrails and special toilets in many schools all over the state. Besides, workshops are being held to sensitise teachers and students.”
The daylong workshop saw Ram discuss attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), seen in 1-5 per cent of children and more common among boys.
“Don’t tell a parent his child has behavioural problems. Just say you are worried about the kid’s poor performance in school. Many guardians believe children are meant to be hyperactive. If teachers complain, they take it as a criticism of their parenting skills,” Ram said. He also highlighted the impediments to learning and the importance of the class environment for a child’s academic performance.
Asked why today’s children were so sensitive to being scolded, the psychiatrist reasoned that most kids today have no outlet for their emotions. Busy parents and nuclear families leave them with no one to share his troubles with. Parents are also more irritable with a child because of stress and longer working hours.
“Our quality of interaction with our kids has changed. We are all geared towards success. Unless parents tell the kids there are more disappointments than successes in life, they will not be able to build resilience. Schools also award achievers, they have no prizes for kindness. So, modern kids succumb to the pressure of expectation more often,” Ram said.
Urging teachers to build an emotional connect with students, Ram asked them to share the children’s problems. “Children with disability are more likely to be abused,” he warned. “You have to act like Sherlock Holmes and go snooping for clues. Try and enter the child’s mind and find out what’s troubling him.”
Students of Gems Akademia International at the sand animation workshop. Picture by Arnab Mondal
Animation film-maker Debjani Mukherjee conducted a sand animation workshop for around 40 students of classes II to VIII at GEMS Akademia International School last month.
“The children were given a topic, Green, and asked to etch motifs with sand on glass slides. At the end of the workshop, we combined all the slides to make an animation film,” Mukherjee said.
The workshop was conducted in a dark room with a camera placed above the glass slide to capture the stills. “A sand animation film runs at 24 frames per second, so we need to draw 24 frames to portray one second of movement. The final effect is like flipping the pages of a book rapidly to catch an image move,” said Mukherjee.
“We held the workshop to teach our children how ordinary things can be turned into extraordinary pieces of art,” said Dipika Rao, the director and principal of GEMS Akademia International School.
The Development Action Society (DAS) hosted its annual reunion as part of foundation day celebrations on August 10. More than 150 children aged between three and 19 showcased their talent. A group of 20 enthusiastic volunteers from Ireland also presented their traditional musical and dance. Students who performed well in their board examinations were awarded.
In Date with Olympian (Young Metro, September 11) Mohana Saha was mistakenly referred to as Mohona Shah. The error is regretted.
Shweta Keshri & Sneha Dutta