TODAY -

Sighting Blind Talents
Ideal Blind School, Imphal is eyeing for government attention towards better educational amenities

Seram Neken *



The blind or the partially sighted individuals require sufficient number of books written in Braille System. Although a scripting machine for preparation of books for the blind was procured two years back, it is still lying unused at Ideal Blind School, Imphal. With proper utilization of the machine, the state government can well provide the requirements of learning materials for the blind students

The Ideal Blind School situated at Takyelpat, Imphal is the only state institution for the blind students and it is residential type presently housing 57 boys and 38 girls. Four of them are totally blind while the rest are partially blind. Although 14 of them belong to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe category, no difference on grounds of community, caste, creed or language is in sight among them. They stay together by cooperating one another. The most difficult period of teaching for these students is from Kg to class II. Too early schooling of blind students is a problem in the schools, according to the teachers. Children who have become familiar with bathing, washing, cleaning etc. are more convenient to be in the school.

The school founded forty years back is affiliated to the Board of Secondary School Manipur and has opened classes up to X standard. Altogether 28 teaching staff and 7 non-teaching staff man the school. Boys and girls are housed in two separate hostels. The teaching process is conducted through Braille Language and System innovated by Louis Braille. Teachers of the blind school are trained in blind teaching degree course for two years. Teaching is in both Manipuri and English medium. Under national guidelines, Mathematics is prescribed only upto class VIII due to the difficulty associated with arithmetic symbols. However, Mathematics is taught upto Class X in Manipur. Last year, a student of this school got letter mark in metric examination.

Teaching-learning process is conducted through touch and feel of symbols, which are inadequately available at the school. For instance, statue of Gandhiji with spectacles, stick and Khadi dress, is used to introduce Gandhiji to the students. Sports activities of this school are conducted in the nearby SAI complex where modern sophisticated playing equipment especially meant for the blind children are used. There are even specific cricket balls for these students. The school also provides classes for extra curricular activities like vocal music and music instruments (table, guitar). Renowned singer Sunita Nepram who hailed from this school, is now serving as a music teacher in this school. A blind student of this school also recently got PhD in History from Manipur University under the guidance of Prof. N Joykumar Singh.

The Braille Printing Machine lying at Ideal Blind School, Imphal is the first of its kind in north east India installed in March, 2011. The country has only 12 such machines to cater to the requirements of blind students. The machine is to be used to produce learning materials for the blind students. With such a machine, sufficient number of books for the sight-impaired students can be published. Their script is written from right to left, and read from left to right. Louis Braille, a French blind-man invented this system of writing, in which letters are represented by raised dots arranged in three rows of two dots each. Known as the Braille System, the blind or the partially sighted individuals use it in teaching-learning process using their fingertips. They require sufficient number of books written in Braille System. Although the scripting machine for preparation of books for the blind was procured two years back, it is still lying unused at Ideal Blind School, Imphal. With proper utilization of the machine, the state government can well provide the requirements of learning materials for the blind students.

VOICE OF THE WEEK
Publication of Books especially for the blind students is highly called for in order to facilitate the teaching learning process of the sight-impaired students. The State Central Library, Manipur University Library and other libraries may also provide ample space and books for the blind students

The Government is providing an amount of Rs. 750/- per head for food for the inmate students of Ideal Blind School. As the amount is quite insufficient to meet the expenses for balance diet menu of the students, there is need to increase it at the earliest. The state government may initiate actions for early utilization of the Braille printing Machine to publish books of various subjects for the blind. In order to educate the students, sufficient number of symbols or structures for various personalities, things etc. are required to be installed at the school. The specially trained teachers of Blind school are getting the same remuneration as other teachers of normal students. Such technical teachers need to get extra remuneration over and above those entitled to other teachers of normal students. Those with white sticks generally expect help from others in the streets and public places. People should be made aware of this concept by way of generating awareness campaigns.


* Seram Neken wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition) as part of The Voiceless Speaks
This article was posted on March 26, 2013



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