St Mary's School shows an open door & willing heart to children of special needs
In our series on India's Inclusive Schools, today we profile St Mary's School in New Delhi. This is one of those rare schools where children from all backgrounds, be it rich, poor, special needs, study together. It is among New Delhi's oldest inclusive schools.
What makes St Mary's School an inclusive school?
"We had a child in our school with a sibling who had cerebral palsy", says Annie Koshy, Principal of St Mary's. "She asked us if he could study here as well because they stayed close by and we said, why not." The child went on to complete his Class 12 and graduate from Delhi's prestigious St Stephen's College, the first disabled person to do so.
"We realised that this could be done and that was when we became inclusive"
At first, the lack of skilled staff was a challenge but there was a willingness to accept everyone and adapt, which is key to becoming inclusive. The teachers were open to teaching kids with all challenges.
From the nursery level onwards, children with disabilities are admitted and this means that everyone grows up with each other. Parents are told at the time of admission that the school is an inclusive one, with kids facing physical and economic challenges.
"We make an effort to bring in kids from all kinds of backgrounds and we tell parents that their child will be required to help"
Every class has a balance so teachers can cope. There are three special educators, and their job is to help teachers. One to one attention is offered, but only as a support for a short time. The focus is always on empowering the teacher.
"We work very closely with the parents", says Koshy. "If a child has behaviour issues, we call the parents for help. We rely on their support when needed."
Here are the other schools in the Top Inclusive Schools of India series -
APL Global School, Chennai
Riverside , Ahmedabad
Gamru Village School,Himachal Pradesh
The Heritage School Kolkata
Nankana Sahib Public School,Ludhiana