As a teacher, Anita Batra is truly special because of the students she handles and educates. A teacher at Bhagat Puran Singh School for Special Children, Anita shoulders the responsibility of educating 150 mentally and physically challenged students and making them ready to step out in the world on their own.
A diploma holder in special education, Anita was among the founder teachers of the school when it started in 1997. At the school, she plays multiple roles for her students. She cares for them like a mother, shares a smile like a friend, imparts knowledge like a teacher and protects them in tough situations like a mentor.
However, handling a special child is not easy. "One requires a lot of patience while working with these children. If at times we are not able to understand what they are saying, they get hyper and start disturbing the class or fighting with others. Then we either ask them to sit alone, or go out for a walk to calm them down. But the affection that these kids have makes everything worth it," she says.
She adds that when a mentally challenged child comes to school, first and foremost the child's IQ is checked to determine his mental level. Accordingly, the child is sent to Care Group 1, Care Group 2, Pre Primary, Primary, Pre Secondary or Secondary classes. To make them self-dependent, vocational classes are also given to students with higher IQ from pre-primary level onwards.
"We begin by providing a child with toilet training and teaching personal care like wearing proper clothes, combing hair, etc. The next step is colour, time and money training. As the IQ of the child improves, we teach them social behaviour, drawing, alphabet, mathematics, computer, picture reading and so on," she says, adding that the school is equipped with sensory rooms to develop five senses of mentally challenged kids.
The school has students from the age group of two to 21, all of whom are mentally challenged. Since the requirement and grasping level of every child is different, a maximum of 10 students are put in one class.
Anita's Secondary, Pre-Vocational class includes students in the age group of 16 to 21, whose IQ is between 50 and 72. Since one of her students is hearing and speech impaired, she simultaneously gives the lesson in sign language as well.
"Some students can colour but cannot draw; some require a marking to know which colour to put in which part of the drawing, while others can draw and colour beautifully. Hence we have to understand the level of each child in the class. But in my class every student knows my name and his/her own name," said the proud teacher.
For Anita, this school is special since the All India Pingalwara Charitable Society, which runs the school, is her home. Someone left Anita at the Pingalwara when she was a child. She was raised and educated by the Pingalwara, and later got married.