Social inclusion is the process of improving terms on which individuals take part in society—improving ability, opportunity, and dignity of those disadvantaged on the basis of their identity. Inclusive education differs from the mainstream model of education. Social Inclusion within classroom is about the child’s right to participate and the school’s duty to accept the child. Feeling included is not limited to physical and cognitive disabilities, but also includes the full range of human diversity with respect to ability, language, culture, gender, age and of other forms of human differences. In simple words, inclusive education means, an equitable and inclusive education system, providing quality education to all, irrespective of their socio-economic backgrounds.
It is simply unacceptable that today, inequality between people is at its highest level. Social exclusion only undermines long-term growth and development. This is why growth should be inclusive and benefit all in society. Social inclusion provides dignity for any individual, providing social protection, equal rights, and access to available resources while ensuring equality. It is the process of individual's self-realisation within a society, acceptance and recognition of one's potential. It involves breaking various barriers before acquiring their social rights as full members of society. Equitable and inclusive education system providing quality education to all irrespective of their socio-economic backgrounds is indispensable to establish a progressive, democratic society in substantive terms. It becomes all the more important for a country like India where though political democracy exists, but socio-economic democracy is yet to be achieved.
Social Inclusion within classrooms is a powerful tool not only for equitable access and increasing school choices but also 'Value Education and Social Emotional Learning' in schools.
The success of RTE section 12.1.C largely depended upon the inclusive practices and pedagogical techniques by schools for seamless integration of children from economically weaker sections in their classes.
Schools in Uttar Pradesh weren’t well equipped for socially inclusive classrooms. Understanding the need to train teachers in various techniques, so that they can better manage a socially inclusive classroom, and in order to establish an equitable and inclusive education system that provides quality education to all, irrespective of their socio-economic backgrounds, RightWalk Foundation conducted 9 workshops in different districts of U.P. in collaboration with UNICEF and U.P. Government.
The purpose of the Social Inclusion workshops was progressive inculcation of inclusive practices in schools to facilitate socio-economic integration within classrooms to ensure better learning experience for all thereby, ensuring effective implementation of section 12.1.C of the RTE Act. These workshops were conducted in Lucknow, Agra, Varanasi, Faizabad, Kanpur, Gorakhpur, Firozabad, Moradabad, and Lakhimpur Kheri.
The biggest achievement of these workshops were Mindset shift from exclusion to inclusion in schools in Uttar Pradesh since 2014 when 54 admissions were raised to over 90,000 in the following four years, making RTE one of the topmost priorities for the state government.