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SHILLONG: Persons with disabilities (PWDs) drawn from various schools that provide special education to them interacted with Governor V. Shanmuganthan in their own special way at the Raj Bhavan on Wednesday.
The Governor cited the instance of first female amputee to climb Mount Everest Arunima Sinha, acclaimed dancer with an amputated right foot Sudha Chandran and noted English poet John Milton who had achieved success despite their disabilities.
“You are an inspiration to others and you must persevere in your efforts. The word ‘impossible’ is not in your dictionary as what is impossible is possible for you,” the Governor said.
The Governor, however, did not focus much on the concerns raised by the persons with disabilities but kept on praising them that they were the people who gave inspiration, hope and confidence to many.
Bertha Dkhar, Headmistress of Jyoti Sroat School, who is herself visually impaired, underlined the difficulties faced by persons with disabilities and urged the Governor to intervene with regard to the enactment of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014 with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Sharing her voice and speaking on behalf of the persons with disabilities, she said, “We would like to be called persons with disabilities and we are no different from others. We no longer want to remain as objects of charity as we want to live in an inclusive society.”
She painted a grim picture of the situation in Meghalaya where there are over 45,000 people with disabilities who are in need of rehabilitation but are confined in their homes especially in rural areas.
She stated that there are few schools that cater to the needs of persons with disabilities and government run disability schools are non-existent.
“Except for some, thousands of persons with disabilities are confined in their homes especially in rural areas where no kinds of services or rehabilitation are accessible to them. The children with disabilities are very less in numbers in schools in our State and we do not have schools for persons with disabilities run by the government,” Dkhar said.
During the interaction, a blind student expressed dismay for not getting access to library facilities. Teachers of Mairang inclusive school bemoaned the lack of government intervention with regard to an approach road to the school and stated that they had written to the government in 2014 to repair the road but to no avail.
“The approach road is in dilapidated condition and gets worse during summers. Some of the children who are suffering from cerebral palsy and other disabilities have to be carried on the back,” a teacher stated.
Another teacher expressed dismay at the unavailability of special educators for National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS).
Dkhar also said that the NIOS has been rather slow in providing facilities to PWDs.
Students from Jyoti Sroat School, Roilang Livelihood Academy, Mary Rice Centre, School and Centre for the Hearing Handicapped Children, ASHA School, Dwar Jingkyrmen and Agency for Sustainable Development Initiatives (KJP Synod Sepngi) participated in the programme.
Others present in the programme included Additional Chief Secretary Hector Marwein, Principal Secretary M.S. Rao, Commissioner and Secretary, Social Welfare, T. Dkhar, Secretary and Director, Social Welfare, H.M. Shangpliang and Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, C. Kharkongor.