Discovering Colours In Darkness
You are blind, how can you learn anything. My confidence was low and I believed every time a person told me,” says Nandan.
At the visually impaired residential camp, here in Maghra, in the Nalanda district of Bihar, all the 42 children including 12 girls sit peacefully, cross-legged, on the ground.
Music class over, another teacher then calls out for the children to do some studying. One of the first lessons that the children are taught when they come to the camp is how to use Braille.
In an effort to bring children with disabilities to the fold of education, the Bihar state government with technical support from UNICEF organizes special residential camps for disabled children in the age group of 6-14.
"Some of the children have been to school before but have not learnt much because of the challenges they face. Here, therefore, we first evaluate a child's knowledge and then place him or her in either of the three groups—A,B,C—depending on how much they know. A group can have kids of different age groups,” says Sanjay Kumar, teacher and centre in-charge of the Maghra camp.
Nandan Kumar, aged 14, for instance, completed his bridge course in this camp and has now taken admission in class 9 in the Diyama Middle School near his village in the same district.
In the classroom where the children sit, names of animals, fruits, vegetables, days of the week, and other such information that you see in brightly coloured charts in kids’ classrooms elsewhere, are all written in Braille and pasted low on the wall so that the children can touch and understand.
Holding his counting frame, or abacus, in hand, 12-year-old Bikash Kumar carefully counts numbers on his teacher’s insistence.
In spite of the many challenges these children face, what they learn in the camp is helping them to build self-confidence to do things independently.
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