Mainstream education set aside, the conditions of the education sector for children with special needs is absolutely appalling. Struck by abject poverty, many families lack the resources to even educate their special children. “As these children demand greater attention and care, they are often neglected and deserted. With no hope for the future, they become victims of the beggar mafia. It is a sad fact, but they are born is misery, live in misery, and die in misery,” says Tanveer Abbas. Tanveer Abbas is the headmaster at Khud’s Partner School Marghazar Welfare Society for Special Children (MWS). MWS was established a decade ago specifically to empower these children, such that they can at least take care of themselves. To enhance their confidence and integrate them in the broader society, MWS promotes inclusive education (60% normal children and 40% special children).
Irrespective of their age, all special children at MWS start with a basic program. In this program the psychological stability of the child is gauged. Those students who show considerable progress and maturity are graduated to join the inclusive program. Apart from promoting inclusive education, MWS also empowers its student body by teaching them technical skills like embroidery and stitching. Now with MWS-Khud partnership at hand, Khud has decided to not only support inclusive education, but also empower those classes with only special children.
This week we started our computer learning program with special children of Grade 1 and 2 (most of these children have physical, minor MR and hearing disabilities). Filled with anticipation, these children raced inside the computer lab. Though a little difficult to control, but Miss Madiha who is a co-employee of Khud and MWS, was astonished to discover that they fared far better than normal students. In less than a minute the kids had discovered how to switch on the computers. Realizing the excitement, for the moment she let the kids have their way, assisting only to explain how to use mouse or keyboard. Before we knew it, the kids were experimenting with shortcuts on desktop. Some had already opened Microsoft word, Scratch, Google Chrome and Paint. It was fascinating to see that just by pure chance or hit and trial, two of the students figured out how to create duplicate sprites in Scratch.
Our work with these truly ‘special’ children has just begun. Once these kids have learned the basics of computing, Khud, assisted by the special-need professionals at MWS, will be designing one-of-a-kind projects particularly geared towards our new target group. Khud believes in the talent of these children and hopes that they will become future computer programmers.