The visually impaired students of a Thanjavur school who refused to come to Chennai for higher education have been told they have no choice.

A total of 19 boys and three girls of the Thanjavur High School for the Visually Impaired had wanted to remain in their hometown as their families would not be able to afford to visit them in Chennai, they said.

For four years, the school, with sufficient student intake, has been awaiting sanction to add classes XI and XII.

A fortnight ago, the Tamil Nadu Differently-Abled Teachers’ Association represented their case to the commissioner and secretary for the differently abled.

Several trips to Chennai and meetings later, when they met minister for social welfare, B. Valarmathy, and minister R. Vaithilingam, who represents Thanjavur in the State assembly, they were assured the school would be upgraded.

Even as it appeared the files were finally moving, the students were sent notices asking them to collect their transfer certificates.

For three successive years now, the students have been demanding that the school be upgraded. The current batch of students and their parents signed a petition and presented it to the government in April. They made a second appeal in June when the schools reopened. But the students were told to collect their transfer certificates.

“The parents of these students are poor and though they may get a free ride when they accompany their children, it will be difficult for them to visit their wards regularly when the school is in session,” said a teacher.

“A trip to Chennai would cost anything between Rs. 750 and Rs. 1,000. If the student falls ill, the parents will have a difficult time arranging the required funds as many of them are daily wage labourers,” the teacher said.

Ms. Valarmathi said the students’ demand could not be met as the current academic year had already begun.

“We have to take the matter to the Chief Minister as we need sanction for allotment of more funds. If there are any shortcomings in the school or in the education provided, we will set them right,” she said.

Meanwhile, teachers said they would scout for integrated schools that would admit the students unable to leave Thanjavur.

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