43 deaf students displaced by BMRCL lose their school year

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Botched rehabilitation work carried out by the BMRCL cost 43 deaf students an entire school year.

In January 2018, DH reported the decision of Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) to demolish the Technical Training Center for the Deaf, located in Shivajinagar, for the construction of the metro.

It was the only such facility in Karnataka for hearing impaired children working since 1982.

The students and faculty members of the institute had demanded that the BMRCL make proper arrangements for further education rather than escaping its responsibilities by transferring money to the management. The then general manager of BMRCL promised to make “alternative arrangements”.

In recent years, the BMRCL has adopted policies that have dehumanized the idea of ​​rehabilitation as officials wash their hands after paying compensation to the trust that ran the institute.

“All promises were forgotten by the time the building was vacated in 2019. We were kept in the dark for a long time. The moment we realized that no alternative had been made for my child, lockdown had been imposed,” said the mother of a second-year ITI student. DH on condition of anonymity.

Another student’s mother broke down when talking about her family. “My husband is a rickshaw driver. I work as a housekeeper to make up for the loss of earnings. I’m frustrated that my son couldn’t pass the ITI. He is our only hope now. My eldest son passed away four months ago. He was only 30,” she said.

Most of the 43 students come from families below the poverty line and barely earn minimum wage. Some came from nearby districts hoping that getting an ITI certificate would help them find jobs.

Documents show that BMRCL arranged education at Ghousia Polytechnic for Women and paid Rs 9.35 lakh to provide accommodation facilities for 17 children. The parents, however, said the move did not help.

“Arrangements were made at the Ghousia Women’s Polytechnic, where the faculty had no idea of ​​sign language and lacked experience in teaching children with special needs. My son said he didn’t understand anything,” the mother of one student said.

By the end of the academic year, 30 out of 43 students had failed engineering drawing, and some of them had failed multiple subjects. The BMRCL took note of the plight of the students after Growth Watch, an NGO, raised the issue.

BMRCL Managing Director Anjum Parwez held several meetings and delegated Divya Hosur, Managing Director (SEMU), to look into the matter.

“It is true that there has been a delay in the rehabilitation of these children. Since the case was brought to my attention, effective measures have been taken. Now, a mechanism has been put in place to follow up on the work to ensure their continued education. We are also working to find them jobs,” he said.

Seema S, the mother of another student, acknowledged the role of officials. “My daughter’s education was interrupted and she got married. However, Mrs. Divya called me and encouraged me to send her to college. She took the exam last week. We hope she finds a job,” she said.

Talk to DH, Divya said special arrangements were being made to take care of the students. “Two students had dropped out of school and returned to Bihar. The doctor brought them in just in time for the crash course and helped them pass the exam. A stipend of Rs 2,500 is provided to complete the education. We also try to find jobs for them,” she said.

Growth Watch member Rajani Santosh acknowledged BMRCL’s shift in stance. “We are happy to see officials taking proactive action. However, these measures should not depend on individual officials. Rather, they should be integrated into the organisation’s approach to metro construction to make the project inclusive,” she said.

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