Years ago in 2004, MiD DAY gave Zainab Dalal, then a Std III student, some company on a frustrating and weary journey to several city schools, where she sought admission for her further studies. As one school after another rejected her applications and principals shut their doors firmly in her face, hope was all but lost (‘This girl wants to study but no school will take her’, June 9, 2004, MiD DAY). Zainab had just completed Std III from a school for hearing impaired students, and was desperate to join a ‘regular’ school with other ‘regular’ kids her age, to complete her schooling.
MiD DAY’s story struck a chord, and within days, she received admission to Young Ladies High School Fountain in Fort. And there was no looking back from there. Today a bright-eyed young woman of 19, Zainab has just passed her Secondary School Certificate (SSC) exam with flying colours, with distinction marks of 75.67 per cent.
Zainab’s is a touching success story for inclusion in education. She had received specialised schooling for the hearing impairment till Std III at the Central Society for the Education of Deaf, and was certified eligible for ‘regular’ schooling thereafter. In spite of this, she was refused by a slew of schools, which claimed that she would not be able to ‘cope’ with regular methods of schooling, owing to her speech and hearing problem. But her outstanding success at the SSC exams puts all these exclusionist myths to shame.
As ready to share her joys with MiD DAY as she had once been to share her plight, Zainab said she owed her success to her parents and her teacher. But her special gratitude is reserved for her friends Mehwish and Nagma, who helped her often, when she failed to catch or comprehend the utterances of her teachers in class.
Having achieved a score to be proud of, Zainab has now set her sights on newer goals. The gifted girl wished to earn a degree from the prestigious St Xavier’s College in Fort, and eventually become an architect. Zainab said, “I love to paint and draw, so I wish to go pursue architecture. I am very thankful to my school, which supported me throughout the schooling period, right up to the time I appeared for the SSC exam. My teachers always helped me. If I failed to understand what a teacher had said, my friends would come to my rescue, and help me comprehend. Teachers would write everything on the boards, because they knew I had a hearing problem. When I was refused admission to many schools years ago, I was very upset. But my life turned around the day I stepped into this school, where I could be on par with other kids.”
Mohammedi Abdulla Dalal, Zainab’s father, said, “If at all my daughter has reached SSC, it is all because of MiD DAY’s intervention. I am very happy that she studied in a regular school, though it was difficult to gain admission for her a few years back. I am happy that she scored so well in spite of her hearing problem. I thank MiD DAY for its support and help. After their article in 2004, many schools called us offering admission. The story was also beneficial for other children like Zainab.”