Permanent Head Damage – PhD
Permanent Head Damage – PhD
Acknowledgement: This piece is based on a short write up I got as a forward in a WhatsApp group!
The Rediscovered Olympic Spirit: The Story of Abbey and Nikki
I posted this on my Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/specialeducationhub earlier. Posting it here so that visitors to website also can read it!
On July 4, 2016 we had about 30 deaf students and their parents come for admission to the Higher Education Foundation Program (HEFP) at NISH. HEFP is a program developed by us to build a foundation in English, Mathematics and Indian Sign Language so that the deaf student may be ready for a University level degree program. HEFP looks at the competency of the student at the end of each assessment period. Students who don't make progress exit. We guide each student to an appropriate practical short term program such as an ASAP course, hospitality course of ITDC or vocational program of VRC or Mitraniketan. Those who make progress in HEFP continue to complete one year before they attempt Degree Admission Competency Examination (DACE).
We spent time with each of the students who were selected for the HEFP after they failed to qualify in DACE conducted 10 days back. All of them have certificates that show that they have passed +2 exams. Some of them had A+ for all subjects. But the DACE answer sheets told a different story. None of them had the level of a primary school student. The parents didn't know this when they brought in their children to be admitted to the degree program initially. Now they realise 12 years of schooling had been a waste.I won't blame the parents for their ignorance. They had hoped and believed that the schools where they sent the children would teach them. Instead the schools gave them marks. Not knowledge. When a student sits in the classroom for 12 long years and do not know the alphabets or count to 100, what is the excuse?
I found the students so enthusiastic. Some were so elated that they are getting an admission to a foundation program with us. This is despite their initial desire to join a degree program and the disappointment of failing the DACE. Some of them had got admission to other colleges for degree programs, but chose instead to come and join the HEFP. The glimmer of hope in their eyes showed that they are eager to learn. But it is a fact that they won't be able to make up for the 12 years of criminal neglect in the schools. Too much time has been lost. A few will show progress. But for most others, a vocational course that requires practical knowledge than language comprehension may be appropriate. Most parents are disappointed when they saw the answer sheets. They wished somebody had told them these truths sooner. It cannot be justified in anyway that these parents and their children were kept in the dark about what was done all these years. At the end of the day, I was mentally tired after seeing the raw emotions of these people who were heart broken. They have the same dreams about their children as I have for mine. But they were deceived.
One thing we promised them at the end of the conversations yesterday - we will guide them the right way so that their child is successful. The lost years cannot be recovered, but a new path can be pursued - something with which that they can earn a living and be independent.
My concern is also for the students who are still in the system. They will come next year again with certificates that carry A+. And then again the cycle of disillusionment and disappointment.The system has to change. We have to stop deceiving these children and their families!
What will we do to make Jisha’s sacrifice worthwhile?
Blog entry by Dr. Samuel N. Mathew, Executive Director, NISH