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Once considered mentally challenged, Vijay rises among his peers

 

Vijay (name changed) is an eight standard student at the Government Senior Secondary School (GSSS) in Jattal village of Panipat district, Haryana. Being a slow learner, Vijay and several other students like him at GSSS are insensitively categorised as mentally retarded and left out of the classroom curriculum. The school authorities are failing to cope with these children with special needs due to a lack of understanding.

This lack of understanding hinders the process of inclusion of special students into the mainstream education system. Infrastructure loopholes combined with rigid mind sets have further slowed down the progress at the macro level.

Looking at the perversity of this situation, ORACLE and OneStage’s school-based gender sensitisation programme called Taaron ki Toli (TKT) was launched in 150 government schools for children studying in standards seven to nine across Haryana. Implemented by NGO partner, Breakthrough, the programme provides an effective method to balance out attitudes of adolescents towards gender attitudes and aspirations and their behavior towards children with special needs. The programme further aims to promote equitable norms through teacher training, interactive classroom sessions, youth clubs, school activities and a media and communications campaign.

After this intervention, the school authorities and teachers have not only changed their attitude towards slow learners but also recognise them as special children now. They are working to ensure that these children are provided plenty of opportunities during classes and actively participate in extracurricular activities.

Breakthrough’s trainer, Mr. Sanjay Kumar was recognised by the school for his efforts in implementing this programme successfully at GSSS and making the sessions inclusive of all students with a special focus on these children. Apart from the programme, Sanjay gave extra time to Vijay to restore his confidence by helping him participate in various extracurricular sessions like the other children. Vijay now shows a new-found confidence not only in his speech but also in his active participation in the classroom. The change has been phenomenal thanks to Breakthrough’s TKT intervention.

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