cashing in on technology: Students of Braj Kishore Netraheen Balika Vidyalaya in Ranchi attend a computer class
Swipe your card, punch in your PIN and take out the cash. Simple, right? Just try to do it with your eyes closed.
This is why, when visually impaired girls of a Ranchi residential school operate their own bank accounts, it is an act of courage that inspires others.
Some 30 students stay at the impeccably neat Braj Kishore Netraheen Balika Vidyalaya at Bargai, Bariatu, an institution run by Braj Kishore Public Educational Society, a private trust founded by elderly couple Prem Prakash Verma and Neelu Verma.
Right now, some 20 girls carry out their own transactions at the Bank of India (BOI), Bariatu branch. Each has a passbook with transactions in Braille.
Under a flagship Jharkhand government scheme, Swami Vivekananda Nisshakta Svawalamban Protsahan Yojana, every disabled youngster between the ages of five and 18 is entitled to a monthly stipend of Rs 400.
This year, Jharkhand government started the process of bringing the disabled across the state’s 24 districts under the fold of the central government’s direct cash transfer scheme. It means that money goes directly to individual bank accounts.
According to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) guidelines, banking facilities should be given to the visually challenged without discrimination. Braille passbooks apart, many banks catering to no or low vision customers offer audio account statements.
Sushila Horo, a visually impaired orphan from Khunti who has been staying at this residential school for the past five years, said she loved going to the bank.
“Hum log ko bahut accha lagta hai bank ja kar paise nikalna. Apni jarurat ki cheez kharid sakte hain,” she grinned.
Founder trustee Neelu Verma said getting self-sufficient in bank transactions was a good way to prepare the girls for practical challenges ahead.
“We had accounts for the girls in Grameen Bank from 1995 and in 2008 we opened accounts in BOI. We feel good when our older girls withdraw or deposit money by themselves. Very soon, we will get them ATM cards,” the social worker added.
Sita Kumari, originally from Mandar, can’t understand the concept of plastic money yet. But she added she loved the sounds of the bank since she started staying at the school in 2004.
“I carry my pass book to withdraw or deposit money. It makes me feel very grown-up,” giggled the girl who studies in Class X.
Her classmate Sarita Kumari offered a pragmatic view. “We get all facilities in this residential school for free. I am saving the stipend money to make myself as financially secure as possible. I don’t want to depend on others,” she added.
Naturally, Prem Prakash Verma is a proud trustee of the school — affiliated to National Open School (NOS) — where girls are taught from kindergarten to Plus Two.
“Our students want to be self-reliant above everything else. Students who pass from our school save around Rs 10,000-Rs 15,000. Saving money in the bank is a prudent habit that we inculcate,” he said.
Do you have any ideas to help visually challenged youngsters get self-reliant?