Pune college takes lead in aiding the blind

While authorities have frequently been blamed for turning a blind eye to the predicaments of visually impaired students, city-based Fergusson College (FC) has stepped up to the plate. The institute is providing 24 writers for an equal number of blind candidates appearing in the HSC exams that commence today. 

Right view: A visually impaired student with his writer at an HSC exam centre. File pic

“All the 24 writers are class 11th students of FC. They have been in touch with the visually impaired students for at least six months to for the coordination essential between a candidate and his writer,” said Rekha Palshikar, vice-principal of FC.  When MiD DAY met her yesterday, Palshikar was busy in making arrangements for the task ahead and she is going to be present at exam centres today to make sure all the blind students are equipped with writers well in time.

“The writer’s role is crucial; keeping this in mind all the students we are providing have gone through mock tests and all of them understand their role thoroughly,” added Palshikar. The college will felicitate all the writers with special certificates, highlighting their contribution in social service, without which their class XII friends would have had a tough time coping with the exams.

Nitiraj Deshmukh, a class XII student of FC was yesterday occupied with last-minute preparations. But he appeared quite relaxed, thanks to the support of his college.  “Getting a good writer was really a big cause of worry for me after entering class XII. But the vice-principal has solved all my problems and I can now boldly approach the most important exams of my life so far,” he told MiD DAY.

Leading by example: The famed Fergusson College is providing 24 writers for an equal number of blind candidates appearing in the HSC exams that commence today. File pic

On the other hand, Nitiraj’s writer Niharika Savant, a class XI student, is excited to be a part of the board exams. “Appearing for HSC exam will be a unique experience. I will reach the exam centre an hour early, and I have already got all the instructions,” she said. Due to ample awareness about the problems visually impaired students face, a few other colleges in the city have also taken similar initiatives.

However, NGO’s working for blind kids have criticised the state board’s approach and expressed that supervisors should reflect on problems of such students.  Sarojini Kurtkoti of Niwant Andh Mukta Vikasalaya said, “According to the rules there are no restrictions on number of writers per student. This means if due to some reason a writer cannot reach on time, the blind candidate may be provided with another assistant.

But many a time a supervisor is not aware of this directive and starts arguing with students. Similarly, visually impaired students are allotted an extra hour to attempt each exam. But the supervisors, on occasions, create impediments because of their lack of knowledge.  Board authorities should give the directions to all exam centres well in time to avoid such situations.”

Yogesh Gupta, a last year B Com student of Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce (BMCC) started a special writers’ club two years ago. Yogesh himself is visually impaired.  “In last two years, I have had several arguments with invigilators at various exam centres. Often they ask irrelevant questions without considering the situation of the students. Board authorities should clear all their doubts in advance,” he said.

As the organiser, it’s the responsibility of Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (MSBSHSE) to provide writers for visually impaired students. But due to the number of candidates appearing, MSBSHSE has never attempted to tackle this crucial issue.

“We have already intimated all the exam centres about the rules pertaining to blind students and their writers. The main clause is the writer should be a junior to the student, as the former’s role is just to write the paper,” clarified Anil Gunjal, assistant secretary, Pune divisional board of
MSBSHSE. Incidentally, the Pune divisional board does not have data of exactly how many visually impaired students are appearing for the HSC exams beginning today.

It’s D-Day
> Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (MSBSHSE) is set to conduct class XII exam starting today. A total of 1,11,253 students are appearing from Pune district.
> Pune divisional board of MSBSHSE has formed 60 squads to check on incidents of copying. Ahmadnagar and Solapur districts are also part of the Pune division.
> “Pune and Ahmadnagar districts do not have a single blacklisted exam centre. There are five such centres in Solapur. Besides the 60 squads of the board, district collectors and zilla parishad education officers have also constituted teams to ensure proper execution of the exams,” said Anil Gunjal.
> Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad have a total of 90 exam centres. Pune divisional board has started a helpline, and board authorities have appealed students to contact 020-65292317 in case of an emergency. 

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