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Ensuring inclusive education in Nepal is one of the biggest challenges we face but at the same time, if achieved, it is going to be a game changer for the entire country.

The State at all the levels, from municipalities to provinces to the federal government, has to take a leading role in this difficult quest for making all schools, public and private, inclusive, open and accessible to those children that till now face insurmountable challenges blocking their personal growth and their rights to have an education and to conduct a meaningful and dignified life.

When we talk about inclusive school settings, we certainly refer to inclusion of children living with physical, developmental and intellectual disabilities but also we refer to children belonging to other marginalized and disadvantaged groups, including students who have different gender orientations.

Reaching a common understanding on such a complex issue in a country like Nepal, itself so rich in terms of diversity, is itself a dire challenge.

The Annual Educational Symposium organized by the British Council on the 28th of January offered a great platform to revamp the national debate on how to make the national educational system more inclusive and welcoming to all students.

The gathering brought together key stakeholders from the Center for Education and Human Resource Management as the Department of Education is now called, together with a diverse groups of national and international not for profit agencies and external development partners.

Last but not the least, important contributions were made from disability rights activists like Nirmala Gywali, Executive Member of the Ability Development Society of Nepal, Laxam Rana, a young disability activist and a member of the board of the Nepal Spinal Cord Injury Sport Association, N.S.C.I.S.A, Laxmi Davkota, President of the National Association of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and Nirmala Bhandari, a promising power lifting Para athlete.

Such events are important because organizations and individuals who care about inclusive education in Nepal are motivated to come together, learn and share from each other.

There are numerous takeaways from the symposium including the importance of including and involving parents of children with disabilities and parents from marginalized groups; the engagement of the School Management Committee in ensuring that schools take actions, even baby steps, towards an inclusive environment not only consisting of accessible infrastructures but also of teachers being equipped with the skills and know how to involve and engage children with different kind of abilities and backgrounds.

Lots of attention was devoted to the issue of disability rights in the framework of the national educational system but also we should not forget that an inclusive education is much broader and involves addressing multidimensional discriminations and different forms of social injustices.

For example, it also means taking action to ensure that girls can enjoy their learning and not being penalized because of lack of hygienic and neat washrooms that are so indispensible during their periods.

Inclusive education also implies special efforts for other minority groups, including dalits and any students that deserve to receive governmental scholarships because of a weak social economic background.

Below few ideas that schools and institutions alike can take to champion inclusive education.

Awareness is paramount: Laxman was sharing how tough was to convince the principal of a school about building a ramp to let him and other peers with disabilities to study there.

It is of immense importance to promote a general awareness campaign at local and national level to change people mindsets.

For this to happen, we need the State to pave the way forward but also small ground level initiatives can be also useful and lay the foundations for more inclusive communities.

So let’s not just complain that the governments ( the plural is intentional) are not doing anything.  It is not too hard to partner with a local NGO or with disability activists to organize small, zero budget awareness programs.

We need champions: in order to promote inclusion, we need individuals that take the lead. I am talking about individuals who believe in the cause and are able to get the buy in of superiors and peers alike. Again inclusion in a school or in an organization does not happen overnight, it is a slow and sensitive process that requires deliberate efforts before seeing long term results. You need consistency and determination.

At the British Council, for example, Vaishali Pradhan, Head of English and Education and Bhogendra Lamichhane, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lead, are two persons extremely committed to making the Council more inclusive and diverse.

You need a team: with awareness and few individuals showing interest to pursue the cause of inclusion, then we need to have a group of people who embrace the cause, including the top management so that a priority area of few becomes a top priority for the entire organization, embedding it within its strategic planning.

I am not referring just to the British Council, an organization that, at Nepal and global level, is pushing forward this agenda, but I am also talking about smaller institution, for example, a community school, where one teacher, one parent can forge a partnership and find ways to generate interests among other key personnel.

Capacity Buildings: this is a tough one and it is going to take a lot of time and effort. Some tools are already there. In the course of the different workshops during the symposium, we learned from Sian Williams, a consultant and inclusive education specialists about tools to help “audit” the level and degree of inclusions in a school. It is true that a comprehensive approach is required but also small steps can make the difference in providing teachers with the fundamentals of inclusive education.

Let’s keep talking: informal discussions groups can be created to carry on with the conversation on how to make schools more inclusive. An informal network where only very motivated and enthusiastic individuals take part, can be set up. Quarterly presentations where stakeholders share ideas and experiences can also be useful.

While the public authorities must to step up, it is going to be fundamental to forge partnerships and coalitions in order to come up with a national pathway, that recognizing the multifaceted aspects of social inclusion, push forward the case for to transform all schools of the country into vibrant, dynamic institutions  fully reflective of the diverse natures of the nation.

Galimberti is the Co-Founder of ENGAGE, an NGO partnering with youths living with and without disabilities. He can be reached at



Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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