Gayathri, who will turn 7 soon, struggles with her school work. Her mother, a home nurse, won’t be at home for three months at a stretch. The one month she is at home, the single mother and daughter fight over school work that is hard for the little girl to pick up.

Gayathri changed her school last year as her teacher told the mother that the girl cannot cope with other children. The new school is no better in guiding the child. Being brought up by grandparents who are dependent on their daughter’s income, the child has no support for growing up normally like other children.

When the home nurse was guided by one of her employers about taking the child to a learning disability assessment and training centre, she agreed enthusiastically first but the distance that she needs to travel every day with her child from a panchayat in Kottayam district bordering Ernakulam to the nearest centre in Tripunithura held her back.

But the school has already lowered the child’s self-confidence and it wouldn’t be a surprise if she drops out of school in the coming years.

But the government and the private sector have tuned out the problem of learning disability in the rural community.

With such prevailing situation, a Child Guidance Camp held at Kizhakambalam panchayat in September that diagnosed learning disability in a number of children in the rural community becomes an important step. The camp is being followed up by an awareness class on the issue. Awareness is for the teachers in normal schools in the panchayat on how to detect a student with learning disability and the kind of special attention the child needs.

The camp conducted by Maithri CVJ Aswas mental health project by Maithri with the cooperation of the Kizhakkambalam Grama Panchayat and funded by the CVJ Foundation, a social corporate arm of the Synthite Group, threw up the problem of learning disability that remains unaddressed in the education sector in the rural area.

As a follow-up programme, a free learning disability and IQ assessment is being conducted at Bethlehem Girls High School, Kizhakambalam, by Maithri with support from Vigyan Valley Learning Centre based in Kochi.

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