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Special students not so special! Report by a blind but visionary student

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By Raheel Anwar
By Raheel Anwar

LAHORE: All four special education institutes established by the government in city facing serious problems of lack of academic facilities, including braille books, technical equipment and management related issues.

There are only four major special education institutes for blinds in the city including: Govt. Allama Iqbal Institute for Girls (Iqbal Town) with 90 students, 2 blind and 17 sighted teachers, Govt Sherranwala Gate Institute for Blinds (Sherranwala Gate) with 50 students, 13 sighted and 7 blind teachers, Govt. Sunrise Institute for Blinds ( Ravi Road) with 40 students, 11 blind and 13 sighted teachers. These institutes offers ‘education’ upto the Matric within their resources.

However, there are some other special educations centers are here to provide education to all disable students including blinds. These special education centers have their relevant centers based on particular towns. In every centers there are up to six or seven blind students.

“Teacher and students believed that the government’s special education institutes for blind students are unable to render services in a proper manner due to missing facilities. Weak administration, mismanagement of resources, admissions of over age students and lack of sense of missionary purpose are among key issues”

As for as teachers are concerned, it is not necessary for them to be visually impaired, however Master degree and acknowledgement of Brail writing is an essential criteria for their recruitments in these institutions.
According to experts, “In such institutions, study patterns and skills are designed in such a way that children having good touch sense ability are taught with brail writing patterns and children poor in touch sense are trained to study through verbal instructions and audio system”. At higher classes, these study patterns tend towards audio systems, due to less availability of brail books. On the other hand, books are also being scanned in order to convert them in soft form and are being studied with the help of screen reader. However, in the present age, the usage of latest software’s and internet by these students are more considerable to assists them in their studies”.

There are following main problems:
First problem is the weak administration; as these schools are being supervised by heads having less administrative expertise without any degree and training in administration.
Secondly, there is also mismanagement of resources, for instance; there is only one centralized brail printing press in Punjab, which does not meet the requirements of these schools. Hence unavailability of books badly effects the education system”.
Thirdly, admissions of over age students; in the absence of a screening system to sort them out they are appointed with available levels and it is difficult to adjust their selves with these classes which eventually slow down the academic functioning.
Lastly, most of the people do not adopt this sector with missionary purposes.
According to some blind students books are not being timely provided to them and it was difficult for us to study mathematics due to deficiency of proper brail math books in Pakistan. This scenario give rise to a misconception that they can’t study mathematics. Experts have suggested that there should be a appropriate regulatory body, free working environment, management of resources.

(The writer is himself a visually impaired but the most talented student of MSc final semester at ICS, Punjab University. He can be reached at: raheelanwar18@gmail.com)

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