Paving the way: A truly special school

Local teacher trying to reinvent public special school curriculum.


Express July 21, 2011

SARGODHA:


A special education school in Grot has decided to employ a full time child psychologist on its roster and the school administration has also insisted that the school be made a boarding facility for the first three years for all students.


According to district education officials, the Primary Special Education Centre in Grot has used recent funding to employ a full time child psychiatrist, psychologist as well as a paediatrician from the DHQ Hospital on its full time roster.

“I want to make this a haven for special children. It is an experiment but I am confident this can work. Primary education for special children is of the utmost importance because this is the time they develop their communication and adaptation skills,” said school headmistress Asma Khawar.

“During the child’s first three years over here we need to ensure round-the-clock care. This is why I have recommended that all children remain as boarders for the first three years.

Naturally we will make exceptions but I am speaking to parents to get them to allow their children to stay on campus for this time so we can focus on all aspects of development,” she added.

The school administrator Hassan Rasheed said “We are trying something new because we want these children to grow up to be productive and ambitious. For that they need to have all the necessary skill and we are working towards this,” he added. Rasheed said that the Punjab government recently announced its decision to upgrade 90 primary special education schools and make them model schools. “We have received approval to use funding toward this experimental programme. We are arranging for quality boarding and lodging facilities so that each child can have their physiotherapy, psychotherapy and schooling in one location. All departments will tailor their research towards each case,” he said.

Khawar said that she was bringing in experts who could teach blind children Braille and deaf children how to use sign language. “We need tutors who can teach these children in their own unique languages and the first three years at the school will be intense.

Parents are welcome to visit the children any time they wish but we recommend that the children stay on site so we can focus on their treatment,” she said.

Child psychologist Dr Rifat Munawwar said that she was very impressed with the facility. “When I was asked to join this programme I was intrigued. However, with regards to special children, this is perhaps the best method of care. The centre will also provide extra curricular activities, therapy and skills training for children with special needs.  Other institutions overlook these aspects,” she said.

Asma Khawar said that she had started the school after years of working with her own son, who is handicapped. “My son is blind and I used to go with him to school to take his notes. I want these children to be self sufficient like other special needs children are abroad,” she said. Ms Khawar completed her Masters degree in child psychology and has specialised in the care of children with special needs.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2011.

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