Patiala school prepares mentally challenged for outside world

November 14th, 2007 - 2:06 am ICT by admin  
Patiala, Oct 12 (ANI): A very special school near Patiala, Navjivani - literally a new life - strives at propping the mentally disabled on their own feet, literally as well in the symbolic sense.

Hundred-odd mentally challenged children between 5 and 15 on the rolls of the Navjivan School of Special Education are held out a hand at every stage, even while being treated like the students of any other school.

Their enthusiasm, their brimming confidence, together with their discipline says that goals are on the way to being achieved.

Dr NS Sodhi, Director of Navjivini said that to begin with to make it was very difficult. People say they have a special child for reasons of social constraint. Today, after 20 years, we have children in the school and a boarding house for children of the age group of 6 to 7 years.”

Preparing these kids for the outside world involves at its base, reading, arithmetic and physically coordinated activity, for which the school has the most modern physical facilities and teaching aids.

Here, students of various mental levels, classified into educable, trainable and custodial groups, are given close individual attention.

Though relying primarily on voluntary donations, the school also receives financial assistance from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

Looking beyond, the institution urges steps to enlarge the scope of education for the disabled.

“As per the world statistics, the incidence of mental handicap is 2.5 percent. Now, if we simply go arithmetically, we cannot have so many schools and it’s not physically possible. We do not have the resources in a developing country like India,” said Sodhi.

He suggests that we should have a small cell in normal schools which handles the special children.

“Some kind of basic training should be given to one or the two teachers in a normal school and some services can be provided over there,” Sodhi added.

Cultural activities and functions within the school, and interaction with outside world serve an all too important objective - recognition of the human capabilities of the children. It gives them ability and confidence to take on life in the outside world.

Besides teaching students, Navjivini has been a pioneer in Punjab as the only centre to organise training programmes for teachers of these children with special needs.

According to a national survey, the approximately 24 million mentally challenged persons clinically diagnosed in the country, takes the national average to around 19 per thousand that is almost two percent.

Punjab has the highest state average in the country, a disturbing 29 mentally challenged persons per thousand population. (ANI)

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