“If Albert Einstein could change his destiny by sheer will, so can I,” said Meera Sharma.
The 22-year-old suffers from dyslexia, a learning disorder.
She wants to be an architect and has cleared 22 of 23 papers of Architecture Assistantship diploma course at Rao Tula Ram Polytechnic in Delhi.
Despite three attempts in five years, Sharma has failed to crack the theory paper on history of architecture.
Going by the Board of Technical Education (BTE) rulebook, students have to clear all the papers within five years, failing which their diploma stand cancelled.
Unlike the CBSE and Delhi University, which offer extra time and writers, relaxation of marks and others facilities for differently-able students, the BTE has no such provision.
“So far my daughter had been competing with healthy students. But because of a single paper if her dreams come crashing down, it is a shame on the education system,” said Seema Sharma, her mother.
Sharma has knocked at all doors. She has written to Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit who is the BTE chairman, Lieutenant Governor Tejendra Khanna, BTE controller S.P. Singh, National Human Rights Commission and several other senior offices but to no avail.
“All I’ve got in the last seven months is verbal assurances. I was not allowed to meet the CM or the governor,” said Sharma.
“The BTE officials said they can’t do much, unless there is a directive from the Delhi government. And with only seven days to go for the exam, I don’t see anything happening.”
When HT spoke to the CM, she invited Sharma for talks at the earliest.
“I have not been informed about the correspondence that she has had with our office. I will look into the matter personally and ensure that justice is done,” said Dikshit.
If Sharma does not sit for the paper this year, her chances of taking the All India Engineering/ Architecture Entrance Examination (AIEEE) gets slimmer. The exam allows candidates up to 24 years.
“My aim is to get an architecture degree, as a diploma will not help me in the long run,” she said.
Ten schools in 12 years
Sharma has not had it easy.
“She had to change 10 schools. Teachers only called me to school to complain about her,” said her mother. “Whenever I produced certificates for her disability, they asked me to shift her to a special school.”
Sharma had practically learnt to live with names like slow, back-seater, mentally retarded, disoriented, mad, naughty, until she found her calling in architecture.
“I had lost all my confidence. But once I started getting good marks for the practical projects and designs in the architecture course, I regained my lost strength,” said Sharma. “I don’t want to lose again.”
The going isn’t easy for this 22-year-old even now.
Even as she approaches government offices, all she has as a reference point for her illness is Aamir Khan starrer Taare Zameen Par, a Hindi film on dyslexics.
“If it were not for this film, I wouldn’t have managed to explain my problem,” she said, holding back her tears.
(The names have been changed on request)