This book reviews current controversies and dilemmas in the educational and social development of children and adolescents in Britain, India, Bangladesh and Nepal. Britain is contrasted with the Indian Sub-Continent because in theory at least, Britain has policies which should enable young people to be fully integrated within the educational system, whatever the degree of their original disability, while in the Indian Sub-Continent such educational opportunities are denied to many children because of problems of social structure, values, and poverty. The rights of the disabled to full inclusion are emphasized in two chapters by Sharon Rustemier. But a chapter by Dame Mary Warnock whose report to government designed the system for educational inclusion, shows that British policies for inclusion of the disabled are not working. The chapter by Bagley outlines the 'poverty of education' in Britain, which means that in a highly stratified society many children—both poor and disabled - are excluded from mainstream education by decisions based on school policies and neighbourhood disadvantage.
India in contrast is a culture in which inclusion of the disabled within educational systems is marred by economic poverty, as well as deliberate policies which deny Dalits (formerly known as 'Untouchables’) access to many kinds of educational opportunity. Nevertheless, there are pockets of good practice in India including the legal framework for action, which chapters by Jha and Jaya identify.
The history of educational initiatives for social and educational of the very poor of Bangladesh are reviewed in detail since these initiatives illustrate the work of a unique NGO (BRAC—the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) which offers advancement for the poorest of the poor in a nation that is significantly poorer than India. Nepal too is also one of the poorest nations on earth, and we offer a detailed account of the trafficking of women and girls from Nepal into Indian brothels. These girls are permanently excluded from all social and educational networks, and their plight poses a major challenge for the movement for the social and educational inclusion of all children.