This article was originally written for MSN India by George Abraham CEO, Score Foundation. It is the fourth in a series of 13 articles based on the themes in our TV Series, Nazar Ya Nazariya, airing on Doordarshan National, Saturdays, at 9:30 am.
Helen Keller was deaf and blind. In her early days, her parents did not know what to do with her. They kept her home and she grew up wild. In fact it was felt that she might be intellectually challenged too. Then Anne Sullivan came along and opened up several windows of learning. Young Helen received education and her life blossomed, enabling her to become the role model and inspiration she is today.
It is our mind that drives our lives. It is our thinking, based on our knowledge and experiences that defines the direction we take. Education opens up minds and helps develop our skills and knowledge. Education helps us hone our language, communication, logic, capacity to analyse and deal with numbers, and understand the complexities of the world around us. Education is a fundamental right, and today the RTE (Right To Education) Act safeguards the right of every child to primary education.
When Jagdish Luthra came to the 11th standard his father saw no point in educating him any further. However, young Jagdish had already realised the power and need for higher education. He began tutoring to finance further studies, and completed his masters in English. After being denied a shot at the Civil Service exam himself, due to his vision impairment, he went on to establish the well known Rosemary Institute in Meerut. Hundreds of aspiring bureaucrats and Government servants come to the Institute looking for the high quality coaching on offer. Though Jagdish did not become a civil servant himself, he takes great pride in having coached thousands of them.
Blind children are as much a part of the potential human resource of our country as sighted children. They too need to be educated. In fact there is a long standing need to audit the quality of education in schools for the blind across the country and to raise the standards in terms of infrastructure, teaching staff, curriculum and study material. Efforts also need to be made to ensure all schools across the country are inclusive. This would call for a thorough review and overhaul of our teachers training programmes, a fresh look at pedagogy and course curriculum, with the potential to introduce technology.
If Garimella, hailing from a small village in Andhra Pradesh, can go on to become a journalist with a leading newspaper and Jagdish Luthra can become a top notch entrepreneur, then every blind and visually impaired child in India should be able to dream of doing something worthwhile. Education is the key. It is high time the Government, the community and the families see education of blind and visually impaired children as a priority. An investment in their future will certainly add vibrancy to the National economy.