School for blind shows the way

Suraj Sahu, a visually impaired principal, believes in giving his 57 blind students all that regular children in regular schools get, reports Santosh K Kiro.

india Updated: Jan 10, 2007 04:36 IST

It is a school for the blind run by a blind principal. A school that gets by with a little charity and practically no government assistance. A school so different that it is a miracle it continues to function. And fairly efficiently at that.

If it is grit and fortitude that we are speaking of, Kanke-based Birsa School for the Blind takes the cake. It does not believe in special treatment. Rather, it believes in giving the 57-odd students who make up its total strength all that regular children in regular schools get. So, these children not only go through the usual rote of academics but also learn music and craft.

Since the school functions from inside the Birsa Agriculture University, casual visitors may be excused for believing that the state government funds the school. But the truth is quite different. And Suraj Sahu, a Delhi University graduate, is possibly the only visually-impaired school principal to lead a band of teachers who are as normal as you and me.

The school, Sahu says, runs because of the few benefactors it has and the charity extended to it by residents of nearby colonies. "Yes, we do have a food scarcity here," Sahu admits, adding that the school’s seven teachers do so simply because they want to.

The school is a residential school and in the absence of government aid, it is Sahu who has to manage everything, from beds to study material to the daily diets of students. "It is particularly hard during the winters as the inmates do not possess enough warm clothes," pointed out Sahu.

The school came up in 2000, and was a personal initiative of Deo Dayal Kushwaha, the then agriculture minister. In its initial days, it lacked nothing. But Kushwaha’s patronage soon shifted to better-paying enterprises. Thereafter, it has been downhill all the way, with Sahu and his dedicated band of teachers somehow managing to keep themselves afloat.

"Today, we lead a sorry existence. Apart from food, we are sorely in need of adequate drinking water, toilets and furniture," Sahu says.

The principal, however, has not lost hope. On the contrary, he is even more resolute. For, as he says, "I know there is light at the end of the tunnel."

First Published: Jan 10, 2007 00:31 IST