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How inclusive is the Indian Education System? Researchers are looking for an answer.

Researchers from Washington University, St. Louis, USA surveyed Indian households to determine the ease of obtaining education and factors that hinder the process, in the country.

The United Nations Development Program which sets the sustainable development goals for a country has declared access to and quality of education as an important factor for sustainable development. Improving the quality of education means, providing equal opportunities for children from all economic classes and being inclusive of the disabled. India has adopted several measures since 2000 to meet some of these goals, yet problems of inclusiveness and support to complete a course for the differently abled, persists. Today, the country boasts of around 96% enrolment of children, between 6 and 14 years of age, from rural settings. Reservations for disabled persons, girls and other economically backward classes has also ensured equal opportunities. However, the challenge of providing quality education remains.

For their study, the researchers interviewed 1294 households in New Delhi. Of the 2559 individuals who were interviewed, the sample consisted of young and educated persons, with a greater proportion of Hindus, male heads of households, educated members of the household, and disabled persons. The households were asked about the different limitations they faced in functioning and performing activities as well as questions about access, retention and barriers to education, arising due to health problems.

The study points to the difficulties a disabled child goes through to obtain and retain the same services, that others don’t have to. The study showed that disabled students were far less likely to start school, and once enrolled, they were also most likely to dropout of schools, before completing their high school. The difficulties faced were found to be greater for girls, children from economically weaker classes, and children from households where the head of the household is uneducated. The researchers also stressed the need for more data to accurately assess learning outcomes and implication of early assessment, also suggesting for education to be looked at as a complex and dynamic phenomenon.