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Strong support for special talents

Archana Jagannath
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Acquiring skills: A class in session at the Rotary Institute for Children in Need of Special Care in Thiruvananthapuram .
Acquiring skills: A class in session at the Rotary Institute for Children in Need of Special Care in Thiruvananthapuram .

Santosh is busy completing his assignment. He does not want to be disturbed till he writes down the alphabet. He recites each letter as he goes by.

When he is done, the teacher asks him, “Which day was September 5 {+t} {+h}?” He responds without hesitation, “It has passed by, but it was a Sunday”. He is bang on. He responds correctly to similar queries on dates and their respective days. No one knows how he manages to do so.

Santosh is one of the 201 students in the Rotary Institute for Children in Need of Special Care - Thiruvananthapuram, established in 1964. Run as a non-profitable organisation without fee, it is funded by the Deenadayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme, under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, and contributions from well-wishers. The classes here are structured around the syllabus provided by the National Institute for the Mentally Handicapped, Secunderabad. Students are divided into groups of pre-primary, primary, secondary, prevocational and vocational. Promotion is on the basis of functional assessment. Students also get assistance in job placement after their studies.

Ten-year-old Govind is excited about his photograph being taken, he poses with changing expressions. Reena is a quiet girl, but her paintings speak for her. Her classroom is filled with her works. Arfas, 14, shouts out the answers as his teacher points out components of the computer.

All of them are trained in social skills, language improvisation, yoga, songs, dance, communication skills and food etiquette.

The majority of the 42 staff members of the institute have been working here at least for two decades. They teach, scold and yes, cuddle the children. The winner of the 2004 Best School Award of the All Kerala Special Schools Association, the institute also provides free hostel facility. Principal Mothi Habib says, “What we need is proper support at the right time.”

Meanwhile, Santosh is immersed in his own world, where his ultimate aim is to get his spelling right.

Archana Jagannath

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