Noida’s Billabong High International School, probably the first school in Delhi NCR to provide for main streaming of differently-abled children, is an inspiring role model for schools to replicate
India has over 20 lakh children with various disabilities in the 0-6 age group alone and various laws guarantee such children among other entitlements, access to schooling. The idea is to mainstream them and provide educational opportunities so that they develop a full potential life later on. Schools are expected to provide for their integration and special needs. Most ‘good education’ schools could well afford to do this, but finding even a ramp in many of them is nothing short of a miracle. But again there is no dearth of model schools that have shown how these children can be educated, skilled and cared. Here is one of them.
Billabong International School, Noida (esb 2005) on 7-acres of land became in a way the first school in the region to start what is essentially a ‘special needs school’ within the school to provide these children access to not only various facilities but made them rub their shoulders with normal students on all important occasions at school. Called Sanchetna, Center for Students with Special Needs, the underlying objective is to given every special need child a school life. At present there are about 70 children in the facility of which about 25 are in the process of being mainstreamed after one-on-one therapeutic service like sensory integration, speech & language therapy, psychological intervention etc. More severe disability cases are given special education and skills by special educators.
Tracing its history to an overwhelming desire to help such children and offer support to their families, the director of the school, Jasmine Gandhi, wife of business tycoon Parmjit Gandhi says that she being a trained educationist herself always wanted to set up an institution which would be best and comprehensive in every aspect. “I must give credit to Joysree Mukherji, a child psychologist, for helping me set up Sanchetna. It was only logical for us as a school to provide inclusive education after having taking franchise of Kangaroo Kids Education Ltd,” she adds.
Set up jointly with IERS (Integrated Education & Rehabilitation Sansthan of Delhi, Sanchetna has a dedicated team of professionals and special educators for helping differently abled children in everyway possible. Occupational therapy is for a special mention as it provides them livelihood skills. Hope others will follow in footsteps.