Background of kanthari trip
Last year I was working for National Federation of the Disabled Nepal in an inclusive education project. For this project wecollected data of the children with disabilities to know the academic situation, conducted advocacy, awareness campaign in different districts. In this period I saw many children with disabilities were facing various challenges to get an education compared to their siblings or peers and those who are in school are often in danger of dropping out.The project was for pilot and finished in four months.But the scenario touched my feeling that I went through.From this point I become deeply interested to study about inclusive education to work for right to education for children with disabilities in an inclusive environment. After NFD-N job I got information about Kanthari institute(empowers social visionaries across the world) from one of the Kanthari alumni (Chhitup Dorje Lama). Soon after I applied to Kanthari and entered into to the selection process to study about inclusive education. Later I came to know Kanthari offers only accommodation and tuition fee. Beside cost like round trip air fare, health insurance, daily expenditures need to arrange by the trainee. Though I selected, I did not have money for beside expenses to grab this opportunity. In the meantime NFD-N significantly helped me to bridge the gap toCBM Nepal to make available for remain fund. Finally along with the collaboration of NFDN I went to India to takethis extended training.
I wished to get advancement on inclusive education that can develop my confidence to fight against illiteracy of children with disability in Nepal. I had some extent of expectation from the training institute.
Kanthari is in Trivandrum, Kerala, south west of India. Institute offers a 7 months, partially scholarship based leadership program for those who has overcome form the adversity and has keen to drive ethical social change anywhere in the world.
Kanthari has given name of the training is a journey in five acts.The journey of curriculum had taken through a series of activities that led us to be able to lead social change. In this way I feel the course has leadership based training. In the four acts (different experience in the training course) of the course providesdifferent experience opportunityin theory and practical knowledge. After the fourth act training institute expects to run or to take initiative to implement learnt or experienced knowledge from the kanthari. That is expected in the fifth series of the training which is implemented in the trainees own region.
In the starting phase of kanthari course we were in virtual world.The course resembles developing countries similar issues. It is a simplified phase, one which has all the challenges that may by an NGO, a social enterprise or any other non-for-profit initiative. During two and a half months we had the chance to test-run the start of own social initiatives concept and were guided by the fictitious country’s government laws.
During the phase two we did grass root research in first three weeks in India. We carried out the research work in different five groups based on the interestedtopicssuch as health and disabilities, education, women and gender, environment and biodiversity, agriculture and rural development etc. The main emphasis on research was to check reality on ground, exposure, grass root level research and consolidating the findings and laying a solid foundation for the social ventures to be launched in the future.
By the third phase time we had gained of considerable experiences by starting their social initiatives in a virtual world in act one and having implemented similar goals and gained team working experience in external organizations in act two.Act three combines everything that has been learned and experienced in Act one and two and linked towards the setting up project within the Kerala, Indian community. During act three mainly we did following activities:
- Awareness / campaigning,
- Curriculum development and training,
- Building and running a sustainable social enterprise
- Barriers to change
In the phase four of thetraining course we had mainly focus on “backpack” in order to prepare to jump back into own interest field and start proactively. During this phase we did project planning, communication (pitches, speeches, ability to answer questions), active and constructive participation in the journey, satisfying report of the intern-host, clear profile of social initiative etc.
Duringthe course there was fun, enjoyment, pressure,experiential learning by doing, acting different roles of society’s people. In the training course we tried to view practical way of theory and some other time we also tried to search practicality of theory in daily life. I saw the campus was as a lab and teachers were catalyst and actor. Whatever came in session as a subject professor always acted for us to understand. Campus has own farming, big space and has in the lakeside. We always walk around the campus and learnt with greenery, in different terraces. We had also different office basedon our work and assignment. We used office to search new things, sat with friends to discuss in different topics, issues to solve problemsfor each-others.
Throughout the seven months in Kanthari training I feltthe course was bit leadership and social entrepreneur skill developingtraining rather than any particular subject. We were 19 in the training program. Among traineeswe had different interest to study or work but the learning platform was same. Like traveller wherever likes to go s/heneeds to go bus stop/railway platform or airport to reach their own destination. Similarly I found Kanthari was aplace where I encouraged to developmy skills on inclusive education which I had interest,committed as well. The interesting thing in my campus was I found myself as a subject matter expert. Available mentors were always kept asking what is your problem? What do you want to do? What do you want to solve? How do you solve? How much resource do you need to solve the problems? How are you going to make resource available?I wandered;I was leading my courseinvolving with fact finding research, problem definition and analysis, solution as a plan ofaction, project management, networking and fundraising.Finally,I realized my course was likeacomplete project which Idesignedmyself and implemented throughout thetraining period.
As a committed participant for inclusive education training in Kanthari instituteI realized that I need to do some degreeofinnovation in education. I always kept it in my mind entire training period. Only after training Iunderstood thatwe need to work on way of teaching. I see, I experiencedteaching-learning process provides a platform where learners create knowledge using different tools and methods. Child learnsbydoing, testing things or trail and errors process. In this process learner develops their skills which guided and documented by teachers. In the same class room students may develop their different innovation and skills as per their interest and ability. Teachers always keep ask and confirm them,what are theydoing? How are they doing? What do they want to make difference? That createseducation, innovationwithinand for other. Not pouring knowledge by teachers to students what we often use to see in our context.
The probability of implementationin our context is there. We can use ourexisting schoolsavailable resources. In present, what schools are doing well and what they can do better to implement child centered education in our own context is most important. We need to develop open platform for all disabled and non-disabled children. We need to rethink our schooling, way of teaching, curriculum flexibility to focus on child insight, willingness and potential.Teachers need to be inspiring and motivatingfor students to use optimum level of available school resources to make difference. Teacher need tokeep following and checking student’s innovation and skills documentation constantly.Innovations emerge within; just students need appropriate learning environment. That’s goanna happen only in the mix culture, diverse ability and interest group. All of this obviously can help students to bring out their potential. Thiswillcreate equal opportunity for allstudents’academic, social and emotional success. This is what we call inclusive education. We need to create least restrictive environment or improve physical infrastructure in existing school to promote inclusive education. We can also take reference from established inclusive education best practices to help local schools to take initiative for meaningful inclusive education. These actions will to bridge the gap between children with and without disability in mainstream schools; so that they can play and learn together; help each-other to bring out their insight.
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