The Government of India has launched Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan for Universalization of Elementary Education. The programme aims at providing useful and relevant elementaryeducation in the age group of 6-14 years by 2010. The 86
Constitutional Amendment, whichhas made free and compulsory education a right of all children from 6-14 years of age, hasgiven further thrust to the goal of UEE. The objective of UEE cannot be achieved withoutincluding children with special needs under the ambit of elementary education.Experiences of programmes like DPEP and various research findings have shown that thenumber of children with special needs in every district is by no means small. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, which is a nodal Ministry for disability issues estimates thenumber of children having special needs as 5%. The Persons with Disabilities (EqualOpportunities, Protection of Rights & Full Participation) Act, 1995 provides that every childwith a disability shall have access to free education upto 18 years of age. This is a statutoryresponsibility cast on all appropriate governments.One of the focus areas of SSA is to increase access, enrolment, retention of all children and toreduce school drop outs. The emphasis of SSA is also on providing quality education to allchildren. Rarely has it been considered that the special educational needs of these childrencould be met by providing adequate resource support to them in regular schools and givingthem an opportunity to receive education in the most appropriate environment. Hence,education of children with special needs is considered an important area in SSA.Education of children with special needs is a relatively new concept and requires a great deal of technical expertise to deal with the needs of children having different kinds of impairments.Hence, a need was felt to develop a comprehensive manual on education of children withspecial needs. The manual indicates how the programme of inclusive education for childrenwith special needs could be developed by each state and district.The manual is a step-by-step description to initiate, implement and monitor the programme of educating children with special needs in SSA. The main objective of this manual is to provideto the implementers an insight into various aspects of inclusive education and provide help andguidance to them. A related objective of this manual is also to help state and district teams inpreparation of plans on inclusive education. In view of the zero rejection policy adopted bySSA for children with special needs and in view of the fact that some severely disabled childrenmay require specialised services, the manual describes a variety of options that could be offeredto those children who cannot benefit fully by going to regular schools.