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Dr Mithu Alur

Dr Mithu Alur

Founder Chairperson, Spastics Society of India,
Mumbai

Dr Alur is the Founder Chairperson of a disability movement in India, which began in 1972. Since then she has been extensively involved in social change, legislation and policy for disabled people. Her first model in the country was a special educational model her second model has been inclusive education for children with disability.
The first model began in 1972, with the setting up of a holistic model of education combining rehabilitation services of treatment, healthcare and psychology, counseling and support of families and parents. Besides school services, she set up vocational and employment services, training of manpower, departments of research, publications, advocacy. She helped to spread this approach to other organisations around the country in their early stages and thereafter this model was replicated in 16 of the 31 states, each one having their own innovation.
Today, the Spastics Society is one of the foremost organisations in the medical and social field working for children and adults with physical and neurological difficulties in areas of identification, assessment, education placement in normal schools, vocation and employment as well as pedagogy and fighting for the Rights of the Disabled People and Disability Issues.
In 1998 Dr Alur completed her Ph.D. entitled, 'Invisible Children: A Study of Policy Exclusion' from London University. The findings of this research showed that India did not have a cohesive policy for the education of children with disabilities and that only 2% of coverage has taken place in the last fifty years à 98% of people with disabilities got no service at all. Therefore it became critical to look at new methods of intervention and macro level policy change. All over the world there has been a shift towards inclusive education for children with disabilities. No longer is it correct to educate them in segregated special schools. It is now believed that special schools are a kind of oppression and segregation is a matter of social injustice.
Based on the findings of her own research Dr Alur moved onto her second model a new movement and launched the National Resource Centre for Inclusion within the Spastics Society.
The Society has had to redefine its goals and objectives. Today, in the private/ State aided schools, more than 100 children have been placed. In the slums and settlements, more than 3000 children are studying together in inclusive classrooms. They are children from socially impoverished areas; the classes have a special focus on the girl child and children with disabilities. This indicates that inclusive education can happen in poor countries as well and that it is not only a matter of resources but changing of stereotypical mindsets.
In the area of Pedagogy, all training courses are modified to include inclusive education. Today, we also have a presence in the Asia Pacific Region. Innovative Training Courses have been introduced in the last 6 years like the Master Trainers Course in the Asia Pacific Region. Students from 16 countries, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Republic of Tonga, China, Papua New Guinea, Phillipines, Tajikistan, Malaysia, Cambodia, Mongolia, Vietnam, and Indonesia and ofcourse India are being trained. Since its inception reports from participants show that inclusive education has been set up in their countries. Support for this course is from the Womens Council (a very old Charity from the UK) and the Centre for International Health and Development, UK. The main idea was to ensure that a context specific course was introduced in the Indian region making it easier for people from this part of the world, the Asian Region to come to India, which will be more familiar.
A new organization has been set up which is a Foundation working under the aegis of the Spastics Society of India called the Mithu Alur Foundation. The aim is to develop an inclusive village model to be replicated all over India, where education, healthcare, medical care, empowering of women and disabled through livelihood will be combined.
Dr Alur is a researcher, academic and an activist. Her forte is her organizational capacity and leadership combining policy reforms with operationalisation of policy. She has authored many books and has a number of Publications, both National and International to her credit, She has attended both national and international conferences. Dr Alur is Member of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE), Member, Executive Committee of the National Mission of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, New Delhi. She is also a Member on the Advisory Board of the Coca Cola Foundation, New Delhi.

 

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