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They wrap their brain around excellence

Mohamed Imranullah S.
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SECOND TO NONE:Three mentally challenged students, who had excelled in the standard X examination with their parents and teachers at Teddy School at Thirumangalam near Madurai on Friday. —Photo: K. Ganesan
SECOND TO NONE:Three mentally challenged students, who had excelled in the standard X examination with their parents and teachers at Teddy School at Thirumangalam near Madurai on Friday. —Photo: K. Ganesan

: K. Vaishnavi, a mentally challenged student of Teddy School at Tirumangalam near here, has scored 93 marks in Mathematics, 89 in Science, 80 in Sociology and 72 in Tamil in her standard X examinations.

The phenomenal achievement has come despite her suffering from multiple disabilities, such as low vision, hearing impairment and other physical ailments.

Daughter of a goldsmith, the girl has braved several odds, including official apathy, to excel.

The Education Department officials had denied her exemption from appearing for a subject (English) on the sole ground that she was provided with a scribe to write the examinations. The girl has now filed a case in the Madras High Court Bench here which is pending adjudication.

Ms. Vaishnavi is not the lone achiever from the school as she was joined by two more mentally challenged children _ M. Gurunathan and V. Vignesh _ who passed with 256 and 229 marks respectively out of 400.

They were exempted from writing English subject alone because they wrote the other subjects such as Mathematics and Science on their own.

“It is a matter of grave concern that the government does not recognise the ability of mentally challenged children to write tenth standard examinations. There is no Government Order authorising them to take the examination. We are forced to seek concessions such as using a scribe, one-hour extra time and exemption from writing one subject by portraying them as children suffering from learning disabilities like dyslexia. Dealing with government officials, who are completely insensitive to the special needs of these children, is a very challenging task,” says R. Uma, Educational Consultant of Teddy School.

She fervently hopes that the new Government led by Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa would look into the issue and do the needful.

S.M. Shameem, the project coordinator of the school, says the institution believes in inclusion method where children with cerebral palsy, autism and other mental illnesses are integrated with children studying in the mainstream schools.

“We have a mainstream school as well as a special school in the same campus and so it becomes easier to integrate them. The credit for the achievements of these three children must also go to their teacher M. Pandilakshmi,” she adds.

Of the three, Vignesh, an outspoken boy who always sports a smile on his face, says he wants to become a train guard.

“He is fascinated by trains all the time and insists that his friends too join him in the Railways,” says Ms. Shameem.

On the contrary, Gurunathan is very reserved. Only tears roll down his eyes when someone asks him what he wants to be in life.

Born in a very poor family, he is the first person to be educated up to Standard Ten. His father, a construction labourer and mother, a housewife, did not even turn up to the school on Friday to check his marks and celebrate his success. “His parents do not show much interest in him because they have two more children. It is only we, the teachers, who encourage him constantly,” Ms. Shameem says.

Mentally challenged students of Teddy School, Tirumangalam too overpower official apathy to score success

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