As a collaborative initiative of New Education Group– Foundation for Innovation and Research in Education (NEG-Fire) and Centre for Social Equity and Inclusion (CSEI), the government school teachers of Bihar have been trained on inclusive education. The three organisations have been engaged in promoting education of Musahar and other marginalised children in Bihar for many decades and have taken up various activities to promote education in Bihar like “non-formal education, supplementary education, leadership and personality development, develop new pedagogy and teacher support programmes”.

Children from diverse social backgrounds with differing social and economic capital attend the government schools today. They do not have routine social interface with one another in the community or society. Schools become the first place where they engage with each other. The teachers thus hold great challenge in facilitating the social interface and social inclusion among the children within their class rooms and schools.

The teachers are challenged as their own social and economic contexts are very different from the children that attend their classes. The teacher training programmes do not adequately train them to understand these children. Necessary support mechanisms are not available within the education system. The families are not equipped to support the children and the school demands. While the Right to Education Act promises all children in 6 to 14 years quality schooling, large numbers of children are out of schools.

This large drain on human resources creates great loss in states like Bihar which has large young population that can contribute to the state development. A study shows how the ‘Youth Population Dividend’ has most potential in states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. The Youth population dividend potential has almost ended in many states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

The National Curricular Framework-Bihar Curricular Framework (NCF-BCF) and the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) recognises the need to promote social inclusion in schools. The NCRTE has developed the National Curricular Framework for Teacher Education, (NCFTE, 2013) which includes a Module on ‘Promoting Inclusive Classrooms (PE 6)’. However, the understanding and practice of social inclusion in classrooms is still very preliminary. Teachers need a lot of support in taking this process forward.

CSEI, NEG-Fire and PJS have together evolved a ‘three-day teacher training module’ in consultation with experts, teachers and marginalised communities/children. The same has been piloted in Bihar and Delhi and found very useful. This week the training was completed in Sherghatti in Gaya District and at present another three days training is going on in Sasaram under the leadership of REAP ( A unit of Patna Jesuit Society).

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