Trainers at the INSIGHT-centre for autistic children at Murinjipalam under the Kerala State IT Mission (KSITM) have not lost their hopes.
Though uncertain of how long they would be able to run the centre, which was on the verge of closing down a few months ago due to lack of funds, they continue to train the 50-odd students, with the hope that the government would soon open an eye towards the centre’s plight.
The uncertainties around the functioning of two centres under INSIGHT-- the centre that imparts ICT education for visually-challenged persons at Vellayambalam and centre for autism children at Murinjipalam -- has been going on for some months now.
KSITM had met the expenses of these centres earlier. From 2007, these centres were operated by a private agency ‘SPACE’ based on an agreement, which ended in December 2012. Things started falling apart from then on.
There was some hope, when it was announced that the Centre for Blind would be taken over by Kerala State Security Mission three months ago. But KSSM backed out from the project citing lack of manpower. Unwillingness to take over the autism centre also invited criticisms from parents. At present, the Centre for Blind is being supported by the Social Welfare Department while SPACE is providing the financial assistance for the autism centre.
These centres have been taking up a number of initiatives including software training and summer camps. Training programme for educators were also conducted by the centre.
Long-term plans has been charted but most of it has received very little support from the government, and the officials are not sure of what to expect in the coming months.
“We have faced this situation earlier but we continue to train our students. Hopefully the authorities will come up with a definitive plan regarding this project. Until then, we will continue with our classes”, said Mini, trainer-in-charge.
A number of allegations were raised regarding the functioning of these centres earlier. An official of SPACE told The Hindu that the internal politics and difference of opinion between some trainers and SPACE officials has led to the current state.
“The agency is not capable of offering support for the State-wide expansion of the project. That is why we decided that the decision for takeover by government was appropriate. The agency also felt that KSSM was an apt choice. However, many are working against the takeover and smooth functioning of the project for their personal gains,” said an official at the SPACE.
“Parents of the children from the autism centre had approached the Chief Minister recently. We hear that a committee is being constituted to conduct a study on these centres. We hope the centre gets the government’s support at the earliest,” said the official.