A dearth of options is forcing deaf and mute students to drop out of school in the state after Class V.
Take the case of Afreen Khatoon. The 12-year-old completed her primary education from Kshitiz Deaf and Dumb School in Ranchi’s Nivaranpur in 2010 and since shortly after that, the child has been forced to remain at home.
It was not that the child did not make an effort. Afreen enrolled in Class VI at Doranda Girls High School near her home, but after six months, she stopped attending classes for multiple reasons.
First, there were no trained teachers do deal with a special student like Afreen. Secondly, the school administration did little to help the girl cope with education in a new environment. Third and most importantly, there is not a single high school exclusively for deaf and mute students where Afreen could go.
Government norms stipulate that there should be one trained teacher for special students in each state-run school.
For the 30-odd students passing out of the School for Deaf and Dumb at Harmu in Ranchi and the one in Dumka, a similar fate awaits. Both schools are only till Class V.
Said A.K. Lal, principal of Kshitiz Deaf and Dumb School: “Afreen’s parents often ask us where they can send their daughter so that she can study up to Class X. We have been repeatedly requested the HRD department to extend classes till 10th level, but to no avail.”
According to Lal, nearly 80 per cent of students dropout after completing their primary education at Kshitz. Most of them are unable to cope up after enrolling in normal government schools.
Last year, six Kshitiz students took admission in normal schools, but dropped out soon afterwards.
“HRD department officials, including education ministers, have visited our school and promised to upgrade it, but the promises have only remained on paper,” a disgruntled Lal claimed.
The school, established in 1938, conducts classes from I to V. Though under the HRD department, the day-cum-residential school runs with financial support from local trusts. There are 80 deaf and mute children and five teachers in the school.
Lal added: “Even though the state government is making tall claims about providing quality education to disabled students, little has been done for those who are deaf and mute. We have managed to add classes VI and VII with the help of parents recently but it’s really difficult to manage sans any grant.”
He said he had written to the HRD department recently with another request to upgrade the school but was yet to receive a response.
However, there is little hope that any of the three schools will be upgraded anytime soon. “This is one of the major problems we are facing and we are really concerned about their future,” said state disability commissioner Satish Chandra, though he hastily added that the process was on to upgrade the schools by the year-end.
According to the Persons with Disabilities Act, each disabled child is supposed to complete both elementary and high school education.