Lending unflinching support

19-year-old Mukesh Singh (name changed) from Champawat, Uttarakhand is yet another visually impaired individual who was denied his right to education by unaware authorities. Visually impaired people being denied the opportunity to pursue education, to write exams, to avail scribe facility etc. is one area that still needs large-scale advocacy.

Born with visual impairment and gradually losing vision, Mukesh studied in a mainstream school till 8th standard in Champawat. His father, a Postman and his mother a farmer, encouraged him to study, though they were disturbed by Mukesh’s gradual loss of vision. But he was forced to halt his education due to total vision loss in 2013 when he was just 14 years old, having no clue about how to tackle this change. Being the only child his parents started panicking too. For the next; 3 to 4 years they sought treatment in many hospitals, spending a lot of money borrowed from friends and family. In the end, they had to make peace with the fact that their son’s vision could not be restored. This left the entire family in disbelief.

Mustering a lot of courage and heeding to the advice of many doctors they met, his parents instilled confidence in Mukesh. They prepared him to face any challenges ahead. For this, they decided to educate Mukesh, now 19 years old, because they believed it had the potential to change his life. But the problem arose when Mukesh applied for admission into his 10th standard through National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), Uttarakhand. He was denied admission in the NIOS center and suggested another center in Nainital much far away from his village.

Mukesh had learned about Eyeway from one of our older beneficiaries, Govind Singh. And so he decided to get in touch with the counselor seeking help to his problem with NIOS. Mukesh informed the counselor about his situation. Having frequently dealt with education-related issues of visually impaired, our counselor directly contacted the NIOS in Uttarakhand and intimated the legal provisions to allow enrolment to visually impaired individuals in education. This conversation made a significant difference and the authorities at NIOS allowed Mukesh’s admission once they were made aware of the rules.

Such issues of being denied equal opportunities in education are faced by visually impaired students across the country. This is still a grave issue considering the progress our country has made under the Education Act and policies. Inclusion is the key word in all these legal documents but it is casually overlooked in implementation.
On follow-up, Mukesh has been enrolled in NIOS, Uttarakhand and he will restart his education shortly. Our counselor also informed him about online libraries and physical libraries in NAB, R.K Puram and the NIOS library for further academic assistance.