Nethra Vidyalaya focuses on technology for empowering blind people
Paramesh from Visakhapatnam is a blind singer who is now an active part of renowned singer S P Balasubramanian‘s music troupe. He has made his mark in the music industry with hard work and dedication. 14-year-old Jagan Venkat Mohan is a Paralympics champion in shot put with many medals to his credit. What is common to both of them? It’s Nethra Vidyalaya, an organization that is dedicated to educating people who are blind.
Nethra Vidyalaya is a venture of a trust run by Swami Chinnajeeyar. Apart from their residential school in Visakhapatnam, they have schools and colleges for blind students in Hyderabad. These institutions were started in 2001 and mainly reach out to kids from poor backgrounds.
We want our students to excel in life and earn their own living. Students who pass out from our institutions are placed in government jobs, banks and even IT companies. This gives us immense joy. Since there is a 3% disability quota for disabled people in government sectors, is it easier to get jobs. – Shirisha Latha, Secretary, Nethra Vidyalaya.
At Nethra Vidyalaya, there are over 100 students between the age group of 5 to 15 years. Out of this 35 students are girls. Authorities at the school remember the difficulties that they had to face in order to spread awareness about importance of education for blind people. Most parents were reluctant initially and it took almost five years to overcome that mindset.
Today Nethra Vidyalaya has students from across Andhra Pradesh, Telengana and some students from Odisha too.
Nethra Vidyalaya claims to be the first institution to introduce online interim exams with the help of laptops. While blind institutions seek the help of scribes, Nethra Vidyalaya ensures that their students pass the exams on their own with the help of technology.
“There are pros and cons of using a scribe. Sometimes the scribe might not even write down precisely what the blind student says. Just because of a scribe’s ignorance, the blind student must not suffer. Hence, we decided to bring in the system where blind students use laptops for exams. That way, they get to decide and put down their own answers. This is also a way of preparing them to become technologically savvy. We teach our students basics in computers from a very young age”, says Shirisha Latha.
Apart from vocational training and academics, Nethra Vidyalaya focuses on arts, yoga, martial arts and crafts. Latha says one of their students runs a centre for dance and martial arts in his hometown.
Jagan Venkat Mohan, who is in class 9, is all smiles when he talks about his school.
“We have the best teachers and faculty here. Without their support and training I could never have chased my love for sports. I hope to become an IAS officer someday. Nethra Vidyalaya will surely help me achieve that”, says Jagan.
Nethra Vidyalaya aims to bring together more blind children to impart education and make them self-sufficient. They are also on the lookout for young volunteers who will help them in the cause of promoting education amongst blind community.