Wednesday, July 1, 2009

One giant stride of sensitivity

Thanks to Anil Mudgal who runs Arushi and NGO for the welfare of the physically and mentally challenged children, that this great step taken by him and his team as helped thousands of them to attend school with respect from the capable children. This story was given to me by Anil when we met over for a cup of coffee where he explained the full idea and I told him the moment the Madhya Pradesh Government finishes printing them on the text books we will meet again and then write the story for the Hindustan Times. So after the text books for children had come to the open market with the printed matter on how to treat and behave with the physically and mentally challenged children in schools I went back to Arushi where I was a frequent visitor and got the whole picture for the below story in April, 2005.

This one little page in the school textbooks of the State will unfold a giant chapter in empowerment of physically and mentally challenged kids.
Advocacy for special children will take a giant stride with the flip of just one page listing their rights and ways to facilitate their integration into the academic mainstream that’s been added to the MP Text book Corporation’s books this year (2005-2006).
The first move of its kind anywhere in the country, the single page has a huge outreach. Of the 6.5 crore school textbooks for all the classes for the coming academic session, almost 35 percent will have this page, surpassing in scale anything that might have been tried before.
In the 2006-2007 sessions, all the textbooks will have the “Rights Page”.
Six years of continued lobbying with the State Government and MP Textbook Corporation by Bhopal based NGO Arushi that has been working for the visually & physically challenged, has finally bore fruit as School Education., Principal Secretary Anshu Vaish decided the time had come for the socially critical move.
Corporation MD SK Mishra responded immediately. Experts on issues concerning differently-abled kids chalked out a list of 17 dos and don’ts. These include tips like seating disabled kids in front row of a class, involving them with all the possible activities on mentally challenged kids, routine contact with the parents of such children.
If the kids are hearing-challenged, they should be able to see blackboards, teachers faces, lips and hands clearly, should wear heir hearing aids all the time and use of drawing aids for teaching.
For the visually challenged, use of Braille, apprising the kids with the school environment and utilities like drinking water and toilets and maintaining hurdle-free environment have been recommended.
For wheelchair bound kids, special low design of water taps, fountains and toilets and construction of ramps for wheelchair movement etc have been suggested. The instructions include treatment of children with speech-impairment and giving them a patient hearing. Teachers have been urged to tell other children not to make fun of the differently-abled children and be friendly with them.
Apart from all these points the page also asks the school to ensure that once a month a special class be held to teach the importance of the abled children on how to treat and behave with the physically and mentally challenged children.
And for Anil Mudgal and Arushi, this page was another feather in his cap as he has toiled very hard not only on this project but also various such others which give and sense of equality for the physically and mentally challenged.

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