The first school in Mumbai for hearing and visionimpaired students, Helen Keller Institute for Deaf and Blind, has been asked to vacate the municipal school in Byculla from where it has operated since 1978.
The school, which conducts its classes in eight rooms leased from the municipal school, caters to children with a combination of vision and hearing loss.
There are very few schools for children with both of these disabilities.
On June 19, the school received eviction notice from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), asking them to vacate immediately.
“The BMC needs these classrooms as the number of classes in the municipal school are being increased under the Right to Education Act,’’ stated the notice sent by BMC officer of Ward E.
The institute was asked to empty the premises on receipt of this letter, but the school wants to be allowed to run here on humanitarian grounds.
Though the school has another campus in Navi Mumbai, 65 to 70 students currently studying in Byculla will not be able to commute so far every day.
“We cannot expect these students to change trains every day and commute to Navi Mumbai. They will have no choice but to drop out,’’ said Yogesh Desai, chief executive officer of the Institute.
The Keller Institute was the first such school in the country to hold online exams through the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) two years ago. “We provide free education to students with disabilities.
Unlike other special schools, we are focused on educating them, not just equipping them with vocational skills,’’ Desai said.
The school authorities have met the BMC commissioner Sitaram Kunte, but have only received assurances.
“I am waiting for the commissioner to respond, he has assured us that he will look into the issue.
But if we do not get a decision in our favour, I do not even want to think of the consequences for our students,’’ he added.
Incidentally, Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee learnt sign language for their roles in the movie ‘Black’ here.