As summer draws to an end and rains begin frequenting the city, schools in Bangalore prepare themselves for reopening. Similarly, schools for the disabled brace for the upcoming academic session. One of the best schools for learning disabilities, Samarthanam, awaits the return of its students after their brief vacation with eagerness.
The enthusiastic smiles that greet the gates on the first day are always welcome. A key component of this special school in Bangalore is the motivation and a keen sense of learning. With inclusive education being its driving factor, the institution sees hundreds of underprivileged children in its residential schools, all bubbling with excitement. This free schooling for underserved pupils has shining faces that are eager to begin a new chapter, a new phase. Their special education classes involve an array of colorful building blocks and sketches by the kids strung around the classroom, and there is only one word that comes to mind – cheery. Bright shades and brighter students still create an atmosphere unlike any other.
Schools in Bangalore generally do not house an inclusive classroom for children with learning disabilities, but Samarthanam’s barrier-free environment forms the crux of its inclusive education. The students also reside within the campus, and it becomes a home for them. It is somewhere they feel inclusiveness. Along with the indoor activities, there is a mix of outdoor activities where the children gleefully perform exercises. This shapes up and generates an interest in the special schooling system. Instead of monotonous routines, while they experience fun in learning.
Free education and schooling despite limited resources are not the most striking feature in their lives; the hours before it all reopens and the genuine smiles are.
Being back to school fills a nostalgic feeling in both the caretakers’ and the students’ hearts. It is like the rain after long, hot summer days. And perhaps that is exactly why for children with disabilities, Samarthanam is their happy place.
The author is an intern at Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled