Dreaming Big – Making Inclusion a Reality
By Percy Cardozo and Mahima Gupta, Sangath, Goa; Percy is a psychologist and educator who is passionate about inclusive education and has developed interventions to assist schools in creating inclusive and empowering ecosystems; Mahima, her colleague, joins Percy in facilitating and promoting inclusion in schools in her role as Intervention Facilitator.
Aligned to the Sustainable Development Agenda (SDG #) UN, India’s National Education Policy 2020 promises to shape a holistic and inclusive education system that nurtures and empowers all of India’s children. In line with this, Udaya Public School in Ayodhya has partnered with Sangath, Goa, to implement the PAHAL (Promoting a Holistic Approach to Learning) project, which aims to create a conducive and inclusive learning ecosystem where every student can learn in a stress-free environment.
The PAHAL project was introduced at the school in November 2022. Just one month after the project’s launch, the school took an important step toward promoting an inclusive learning environment by establishing a School Inclusion Committee (SIC). This committee, composed of various stakeholders – administrators, teachers, parents, students, and support staff – is designed to support the smooth implementation and monitoring of all project activities.
In January 2023, on a cold winter day, the Keystone team of Leela Raj, Grace Daniel, and Rachit Pandey traveled to Ayodhya to support Sangath’s efforts to plan a robust implementation of the PAHAL project. The Keystone team encouraged the SIC to dream big! Using the person-centered tool PATH, the team facilitated the visualization of the school’s journey towards an inclusive process. During the highly interactive session, participants actively engaged in meaningful dialogue and shared their ideas and aspirations for strengthening their school environment. With Leela’s gentle probing and guidance and Grace’s vivid graphics, they were excited to see their dream come alive.
Following the Keystone session, the SIC worked together to develop a vision incorporating their shared aspirations and hopes for the school. In subgroups, members developed a series of statements that reflected their diverse views. The Sangath team fused these individual contributions and assisted the SIC in transforming them into a comprehensive statement that reflected the essence of their collective vision for the school’s future. The vision of the PAHAL project is captured in this statement: Over the next five years, the PAHAL Project will equip all school community members with knowledge and skills to create an emotionally safe and inclusive school environment.
Over the next several months following PATH, with the North Star as a guide, implementation planning continued at SIC. Members worked together to develop initiatives to raise awareness of the project’s vision and activities. Each subgroup of the committee was tasked with developing a customized plan to raise awareness among the various members of the school community-parents, students, teachers, and school administrators. This structured approach ensured that all critical aspects of the school community were captured to develop a comprehensive and inclusive strategy.
The PATH, a new addition to Sangath’s inclusion-based work in schools, provided vivid imagery for the PAHAL implementation plan. The members of SIC showed great enthusiasm and participated wholeheartedly in the activity. The collaborative nature of the session fostered healthy discussion among the members, all of whom strove to develop the most impactful and comprehensive plan possible.