Gamru Village School brings hope to special needs kids in rural Himachal Pradesh

Reaching out to special needs kids in rural India is a tough challenge and that is why Gamru Village School, located in the remote outskirts of Dharmsala in Himachal Pradesh, occupies a special place in our list of Top 10 Inclusive Schools of India.

Gamru Village School was set up in 2004 by Philip Adams.

Read NewzHook special on These Schools are Setting the Stage for an Inclusive World

Adams, who frequently visited Dharmsala from the United Kingdom, noticed that the children of local labourers were not able to go to school. So he decided to start a school for them and took the support of the local Rotary Club.

Education at Gamru Village School is free

Today, there are over 150 children at this school, and it reaches out to children with and without disabilities. Its an approach that is remarkable given that few mainstream schools in India show a spirit of inclusion. The school teaches them for free and runs entirely on donations from people living in India, and abroad.

"We have children who are deaf, blind, speech impaired, with facial deformities and mobility challenges", says Meenakshi Sharma, Principal of Gamru Village School. The school helps fund their surgeries and medical treatment when needed.

The teachers here have been sensitised to address the children's needs. Over the years, training workshops have been held regularly for teachers with a special educator from the UK.

"The children love it here. We had a deaf and speech impaired child who came to us when he was 13 years old. When it was time for him to leave four years later, he did not want to go".

What is remarkable is the love and support the children and parents here show towards each other. The children are very understanding and open. They help each other out and no one has ever said that they find it difficult to study with them", Sharma adds.

The remoteness of the area and the harsh geography means children here get few opportunities, says Jo McGowan Chopra, co-founder of the Latika Roy Foundation in Dehradun, who is familiar with the work done by Gamru School. "Given these challenges, it is amazing that the school has been able to do so much".

To view the other schools in the Inclusive Schools series, click below:

Orchid School, Pune

APL Global School, Chennai

St Mary's School,Delhi

Riverside, Ahmedabad

Akshar, Kolkata

Vivekalaya, Coimbatore

The Heritage School, Kolkata

Nankana Sahib Public School, Ludhiana

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