Sudharani is 14 years old, and lives in Gulbarga, Karnataka, with her parents, and six-year-old brother, Nagesh. Her father is a supervisor in a grain mill. She has been attending her current school for over a year now.
Her father says, “When I first enrolled her in school (the former school), her teacher asked us to remove her as she used to just sit quietly and listen. They would give her a separate set of exams and pass her from class to class. She never really learnt anything. When they realised that she wasn’t learning, they made her repeat the seventh standard. But now in the new school, the inclusive education facilitator visits twice a week, and she is picking up fast!”
The inclusive education facilitators from National Association for the Blind – Karnataka, a Sightsavers partner, support around 200 visually impaired children in Gulbarga district. The facilitators counsel the visually impaired child’s family so that they fully understand their child’s potential; the school authorities regarding the child’s inclusion into regular schools; and encourage and guide the progress of both the child and the school teachers in the education process.
Sudharani cheerfully speaks of her school and friends, “My favourite subject is Kannada. I’ve been learning Braille for less than two years. My inclusive education facilitator is Bouramma, who teaches me Braille, Abacus and Taylor Frame. (a piece of equipment blind children use to do math, by putting pegs in holes that are marked and appear at certain angles to indicate calculations). I don’t play much with the other kids, just games where I don’t have to run around too much. I have lots of friends, and walk with them to school. I like to watch television when I get back from school.”
My favourite subject is Kannada. I’ve been learning Braille for less than two years.
“When I first met her, she used to just sit and not interact. But she’s actually very bright, and a quick learner,” says Bouramma, the inclusive education facilitator (in the white & green dress). She adds, “I am also responsible for nine other children, six of whom are blind and three of whom have low vision. Subjects like Braille are interesting, and I enjoy teaching it.”
Sudharani’s father sums it all up saying, “Since the facilitator came, she’s started learning new things and is very responsive. I’ll be happy if she becomes a teacher when she grows up. Or whatever she wants to be!”