Higher Education for the persons with disabilities is now not a dream too far as record 22 visually impaired students, including nine girls, from the rural areas will study in two prestigious colleges of Shimla.
This is a first in this hill State that such a large number of visually impaired students have joined colleges. The twenty students out of 22, since they belong to the economically weaker section of the society, will study on the full scholarship of the Foundation. Their expenditure on fees, hostel and mess will be borne by the Umang Foundation, a public welfare trust.
Ajai Srivastava, chairman of Foundation, said that last year 10 blind students, including five girls and five boys were admitted in local RKMV College and Government College, Sanjouli. In the current session four girls and eight boys have joined the same colleges with the support of the Foundation. They all have been allotted hostel accommodation by the respective colleges. A full time female attendant has also been provided in the hostel for the blind girls by the Foundation, he further added.
The admission to blind and deaf girls in that Government School was ensured through a High Court order on the PIL of Ajai Srivastava. Now, the landmark judgment in the same case delivered by the Bench of Justices Rajiv Sharma and Tarlok Singh Chauhan on 4th June, 2015 has given major relief to the disabled students. The High Court has directed the Government to provide free education to the disabled up to University level in all classes including professional and vocational courses. Himachal Pradesh will become the first State in the country to give this major concession as the education is free for the disabled in the country up to the age of 18 years only. The Court also increased the rate of scholarships for the disabled.
Umang Foundation is continuously making efforts to provide education to the poor students with blindness and other disabilities. Presently 19 girl students, including 5 blind and 14 deaf, are studying in Portmore School, Shimla. Ajai Srivastava said that the Foundation mobilizes its financial resources from within the society and it full focus is on the educational empowerment of the poor disabled so that their dream of economic rehabilitation comes true. The Foundation will give latest electronic educational devices to them.