The HEAD Mobile School
The Head Mobile School for Children with Physical and Visual Disabilities::
Humla is one of the most remote and undeveloped districts in rural Himalayas of Nepal where the situation of children with disabilities is extremely difficult. Specialized services for early detection and intervention for all disabilities are available only in distant centers offering specialist services, which are completely beyond the reach of poor families having such children from the district like Humla. Therefore, we have planned the project, the HEAD Mobile School since the establishment of the organization. The Mobile School is a first step to take literacy and education to the disabled children at their homes when they are themselves unable to come to schools and learning centers and regular schools are not able to accommodate/integrate such children in their educational process. After the successful operation of the first Mobile School in 2011 for children with visual impairment in 8 VDCs of Humla, after there we ran a numbers of the same school in 11 VDCs in the middle Humla for children with physical and visual impairment. The major goal of the project is to promote literacy and inclusive education for the children with disabilities and their parents in the rural Nepal through operating a mobile school with literacy based educational training at their home and ultimately integrate them into mainstream education system. In this fiscal year only we visited to the most further down parts of Humla which are Shreenagar, Jaira, Madana, Kalikot in order to identify the children with disabilities in these VDCs. But on Darma Melchham, rodikot, and raya mobile school was conducted and respectively 16, 9, 12 and 19 children with visually and physically impaired were engaged.. In total 56 students were able to attend the class. The classes were conducted with the main principle of mobile school which is bring school to the children.
Acquisition of knowledge by all, able or disabled, rich or poor, must rest first on the principle of universal access to education. This means that for hundreds of disabled children in Humla district that cannot come to school because of cost and disability, the school must go them. A good solution for making this possible is the mobile school. The mobile school consisting of two horses which have a saddler on each of their back and the first one accommodate the teacher and assistant, who drive the horses around to take literacy and education to distant rural homes. The second horse is used for transporting teaching and other supporting equipment. We use horses as a means of transportation because the region is not yet connected to national road network. In the month of March Mr. Lokraj, the instructor of the Mobile School and the assistant Mr. Hum Bahadur Malla visited the above mentioned 5 VDCs of lower Humla where we have not been before. The major goal of the visit this time was to identify and locate the children with disabilities. Altogether, the teachers have identified 234 children with all kind of disabilities.
In the next part of the program, HEAD Nepal is under the process of obtaining project resources for necessary supplies for the school such as stationaries for the children, tends for classroom, sleeping bags, bags etc. After the approval of the budget for the mobile school next year the teachers will visit homes on a regular basis, locate disabled children, assess their situation and provide them training on daily living skills (independent living), orientation/mobility skills, confident building, and basic health and sanitation including their parents. In the second part of the program , the children will be taken to the world of literacy and education.
The Mobile Blind School 2011:
The Target Group
The beneficiaries of the Mobile Blind School are blind or partially sighted children in Humla district. Their parents and family members and the community at large are the indirect target group of the project.
In order to reach visually impaired children in remote and inaccessible villages and to prepare them for main stream education, HEAD Nepal has started a Mobile Blind School. Because ?if the child cannot go to school, THE SCHOOL SHOULD GO TO THE CHILD? (N. Krishna Swamy, Vidya Briksah India). This school is providing Braille literacy, confidence/communication, mobility/orientation, motor skills and daily living skills training by directly going to the child?s house in the villages.
Humla has 27 Village Development Committees (VDCs). The mobile blind school is working in 8 VDCs, especially in the upper part of Humla. In those 8 VDCs, HEAD Nepal has identified 2 blind and 23 partially sighted children aged 3 to 15 years. Most of the older children attend regular schools, but they face big difficulties, such as
- to read text on the blackboard
- to use textbooks
- to integrate with their sighted peers
The totally blind teenagers do not go to school due to their disability (for case studies see appendix).
The teacher travels to the villages on foot or on horse back. If necessary, a horse is used to carry the materials which are required to conduct classes in the community such as Braille kids (slate, stylus, etc).
Mobile Blind School units have been established in five villages serving 8 VDCs of Humla. It is the responsibility of the parents to take their children to these units for weekly classes. The mobile blind school ensures regular training. Currently, between four and eight students participate in the different units. Classes take place once a week for four hours, the rest of the week the parents should practice with the children what they learned during classes. Therefore it is important to involve the parents of the visually impaired children and other family members as much as possible in the training process.
The community based training of the mobile blind school will be continuing for one year in 5 units for 8 Village Development Committees. Then the children will be integrated into the main stream education in regular schools. Head Nepal will try to set up a home facilities/residential center for these children in Simikot. The service of the mobile blind school will then take care of visually impaired children in other VDCs in Humla.
Anja, while she was doing her internship project in Head Nepal in August and September 2011, she prepared a short radio play "audio news letter" on Mobile Blind School which can be listened below: