Travails of differently-abled students in Hyderabad

Mahabubnagar: Alla Saraswathi (21) was born in a family of farm labourers in Pithapuram near Rajamahendravaram of Andhra Pradesh. She was just 10-year-old when she got affected by chickenpox and she lost her vision.

Sunkaraboina Manjula (22), a native of Kattangoor mandal in Nalgonda district was blind at birth. They both speak different dialects of Telugu, but are united by a common problem.

They pursued degree in different subjects at University College for Women, Koti. Currently Saraswathi is preparing for Civil Services Examination in Hyderabad after she was selected by NTR Vidya Unnati Scheme of Andhra Pradesh and Manjula is pursuing MA in Telugu at University College for Women, Koti.

It wasn’t easy for them to come this far, because both hailed from below poverty line (BPL) families.There are others also like them who were lucky enough to get admitted to Degree and PG colleges in Hyderabad and elsewhere.

Most of the differently-abled girl students come from very poor families. They come to Hyderabad with the hope that they would be able to lead an independent life without being a burden on someone.

Though there are universities like University of Hyderabad where students are given laptops and good food, there are also universities and colleges where life is an uphill task for these girls.

For instance in University College for Women, the hostel for visually challenged is in dilapidated condition. The girls fear that it could collapse any time. There is no caretaker to address their needs and teachig staff need to be sentised to the needs of the students.

There is no provision for PG students to live in hostel on the campus. They have to stay at OU Women’s College hostel in Vidyanagar, which is an almost 7 km to 8 km away from Koti. Travelling to their college in Koti every day is a herculean task for these girls. Some of them have met with accidents while trying to cross the road and waiting for bus.

When these issues were brought to the notice of University College for Women administration, the blame game began. They said they were not getting funds.There is no separate computer lab for visually challenged students on campus so that they could practice JAWS software.

Manjula, who met with an accident recently while crossing the road and was bedridden for two weeks, had requested Telugu Department to allow her to attend classes in OU Arts College, but her request was turned down. With no guide to take her to Koti from OU campus every day, she continues to suffer.

“There are four visually challenged students enrolled in PG programmes at University College for Women and are all living in OU campus. Due to which they are facing many difficulties. I am an alumni of the college and if they can accommodate us in that campus we will be grateful to them. If they can’t do that, at least let them allow us to attend classes at OU campus,” a helpless Manjula told Telangana Today.

The students of Andhra and Telangana are now hoping that Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao would provide some help to them.

Last year 13 differently-abled students were selected for Civil Services across the country. With a little push from the Telangana government, it won’t be long before the word ‘disabled’ will be replaced by ‘most abled’ while referring to the educated girls of this community.

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