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A school which gives inclusive education to children with disabilities in South Kashmir

Raouf Dar

Anantnag April 05 (KINS): Zaiba Aapa Institute of Inclusive Education has been providing inclusive education to children with disabilities in South Kashmir.

The school was founded by Javeed Ahmad Tak in Bijbehara area of South Kashmir’s Anantnag district in 2008. Presently, over 130 students with different disabilities like deaf and dumb, blind, autism and multiple disabilities are enrolled. Around 21 special educators have been hired to impart education to these students. It caters to the educational, vocational and rehabilitation needs of children with disabilities. Besides, students also participate in sports, art, and other activities.

According to Tak, the school would run on public donations. However, since 2018, it has been receiving financial support from Bangalore based Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives.

Tak, 47, is wheelchair-bound himself for the last 25-years and is also running a non-government organization ‘Humanity Welfare Organization’ to provide help to disabled population.

He was not born disabled. He had gone to his uncle’s home in 1997, who was associated with mainstream party National Conference. He was then 23 and pursuing his bachelors from Anantnag Degree College in South Kashmir.

Narrating the incident with news agency Kashmir Indepth News Service (KINS), he said, “Some unknown gunmen had come to kidnap my uncle. They fired bullets. Several bullets hit me and damaged my spinal code. I was hospitalized for two years. Since then I can’t walk and move only on a wheelchair.”

Later, he did his masters in Social Works from the Kashmir University in 2006.

The school has been charging a minimum amount to the students from Rs 50 to Rs 300 per month including a bus fare. During Covid, Javid’s NGO was also on the forefront to provide all possible help to the disabled population.

“We also provide supportive devices like hearing aids, wheel chairs, crutches and sticks among the needy persons especially school going children. During Covid, we also provided eatables and medicines. I don’t have an exact number but this NGO helped thousands of people including disabled, widows and children of downtrodden families,” Tak said, who got Padma Shri in 2020 for social work.

According to him, in South Kashmir’s four districts-Anantnag, Kulgam Shopian and Pulwama- there are over 15,000 children with disabilities. “We are also giving basic Braille and Sign language training to teachers in various schools. We need a lot of schools for such children,” he added.

Dukroo Zakai, a 20-year-old girl of Bijbehara in South Kashmir has been visually impaired since childhood. But that has not deterred her from pursuing higher education. She is currently pursuing graduation in one of the colleges in New Delhi.

“She faced immense difficulties since her childhood as she remains dependent on others. But it is all because of family and also management of Zaiba Aapa Institute of Inclusive Education that she managed to reach higher studies. In Javid Ahmad Tak’s school, she received free education along with Braille books. They are provided reading material in Braille script. The school management used to send a vehicle to our home for pick up and drop during her schooling days. They also used to provide a helper to assist her in the school from gate to the classroom,” her uncle said, adding that the family always wanted to give her a good education.

Asked how she studies at home, he said, “She records lectures of teachers on her mobile phone to listen to them later and study at her own pace at home. She is passionate towards studies,” he said.

After passing class 10th, she had to move to New Delhi as there were no higher institutes available for such students in the Valley. “In New Delhi, she is receiving good support from the college authorities. Even they send a helper to receive her at the airport when she goes there,” he added.

Similarly, Misbah Manzoor, a 12-year-old girl from Chersoo Awantipora in Anantnag is speech and hearing impaired.

“She would face a lot of difficulties in understanding. Thanks to Tak’s school, she understands things from our lip movement. There has been a lot of improvement in her condition with the support of teachers. She understands sign language as there are language interpreters in the school. She has also been receiving speech therapies,” her father Manzoor Ahmad said, who is a daily wager in one of the government departments.

Misbah is also passionate about sports. “In school, there are many sports activities. It keeps them mentally and physically fit. These children can’t play with other children because of their disabilities. It is like such schools which help such students to grow, participate in physical activities, and also how to communicate with others,” he added. (KINS)

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