~ Statement of Minister of Human Resource Development in the Rajya Sabha, 21/3/05.
The ultimate aim of every parent who has a special child is to integrate the child into mainstream society. In order that the children continue to benefit from the gains realised by them in the Early Intervention programme, birth to 6 years, and that they build up further from there on, the selection of children and preparing them for moving ahead is carried out over a period of time.
Sanmargam aims at preparing the children to move ahead, and beyond the birth to six years programme of intervention, towards school education in the mainstream and special school systems.
Facilitating children with developmental delays/mental retardation, and with associated disabilities to continue education in special and mainstream schools on completion of the Upanayan early intervention programme, age group, birth to six years at Madhuram Narayanan Centre for Exceptional Children, Chennai (MNC).
Mainstream schools and special schools for formal education emphasise that the children for whom admission is sought are:
Children moving ahead to mainstream education are basically identified on the functional level each child displays in the performance of the skills in activities of daily living.
It is a coordinated training programme where:
The focus of the IEP is on the 'moving ahead' and hence aimed at training the child in the required age appropriate skills in activities of daily living, thereby building bridges wherever there were developmental delays, and helping child reach the goals set for further development.
The preparation to moving ahead to mainstream schools begins with the identification of nursery and primary schools which
There is continued interaction with mainstream teachers to orient them to the nature, causes, care and management of disabilities and enable them to plan and prepare their classroom situations accordingly. This is done with visits to institutions, inviting mainstream teachers to the activities at the centre, and briefing on the level of preparedness of the children.
This enables the child to experience the qualities of a mainstream school.
The project began informally in 2003, when students of MNC moved on to various mainstream schools about mainly as parents desired it. One of our older students has since completed his 10th standard board examination from one of the supportive mainstream schools.
This experience highlighted the following issues in mainstreaming:
Children who have reached the optimal level of early intervention programmes at MNC are ready to transit to mainstream schools, which may be:
The Project 'Sanmargam--Mainstreaming' was formally started in 2005 and MNC has placed 46 students in various schools in Chennai. Follow up studies have shown that
Mainstreaming under Sanmargam is an annual activity, according to the school term. This process involves:
Mainstream schools in Chennai city that children from MNC have moved on to. The schools are chosen with care so that the child benefits and also has an opportunity to offer something back to society.
Special educators from MNC will monitor the project, with the objectives to:
Children are assessed for progress in writing, mathematics and social skills. The child's academic performance will be closely monitored, including progress reports, marks sheets and examination papers.
MNC proposes to continue supporting more students to move to mainstream schools each year and develop strategies to minimize drop out rates.