Other States

In Mizoram, parents run school for their hearing impaired children

Students of Ephatha Special School

Students of Ephatha Special School | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

On Saturdays and Sundays, Saihmingthangi and other members of the Ephatha Society of Mizoram (ESOM) go door-to-door selling fruits and other non-processed edibles in certain localities of the State capital Aizawl.

Most of the members, pursuing a job or profession or small-scale farming, do not need the “extra cash” for sustenance. The money they collect goes to meeting the monthly expenses of a special school they have been running for their wards since May 2016.

There are no State-run special schools in Mizoram. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment funds a couple of such schools managed by NGOs while the evangelical Salvation Army runs one for the visually impaired.

The only such school for the hearing-impaired is Ephatha Special School, run by the ESOM mostly comprising the parents of its students. It operates from an unused building of the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan in Aizawl’s Kulikawn locality.

“The realisation that hearing-impaired children were being deprived of education led to the birth of the Hearing-Impaired Parents’ Society of Mizoram in February 2012. The name was changed to Ephatha Society of Mizoram in 2019, three years after we started the school,” Ms. Saihmingthangi, the society’s president, told The Hindu. She is an employee of the State’s Education Department.

The name Ephatha was derived from ephphatha, an Aramaic word meaning “be opened” and associated with the healing of a hearing impaired person mentioned in the Bible.

“The school currently has 16 children, including Lalramchhana, a specially abled boy who is not hearing impaired but refuses to study anywhere else. Four of us specialising in American sign language teach the children from Classes 1 to 8,” Samuel R. Lalhmangaiha, the school’s principal, said.

Teachers of Ephatha Special School

Teachers of Ephatha Special School | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“There are certain limitations to teaching the hearing impaired from the books. So, we focus more on vocational training and skills that can increase their employability,” he said.

The other teachers are Lalrinchhungi, Malsawmtluangi and Christine Laldinthari. Together, they are paid ₹25,000 a month.

The members of the society pool money from their income and add the profit earned from selling fruits, vegetables, fish and other perishables twice a week to pay the teachers and take care of other expenditure of the school. Expenses are also met from the nominal admission and monthly fee charged for each student.

“We also seek donations but very few can spare money, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic struck,” Ms. Saihmingthangi said, thanking the Assam Rifles for helping renovate the school building and providing desks, benches and some learning tools.

C. Thanzami, the society’s secretary, said ESOM has reapplied for affiliation to the State Board in order to upgrade the institution to a secondary school. The government did not process an application two years ago because the school does not have its own building and have non-teaching staff.

“We could have accommodated more hearing impaired children in Mizoram if we were resourceful enough to run a hostel. We hope we are able to cater to such children who live in faraway places,” Ms. Saihmingthangi said.

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Printable version | Jun 25, 2022 8:50:38 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/in-mizoram-parents-run-school-for-their-hearing-impaired-children/article65442496.ece