Imparting special education to rural, poor and underprivileged students with special needs
In the year 2004, Ritham Special School started its operations. Although it started with only 4 children in 2004 currently it has an enrolment of more than 85 students. The Founder Mr. P. S. Kathiresan is a retired headmaster from Tamil Nadu and was awarded 'Best Teacher' by both the Central Government and Tamil Nadu state government. He along with his son, Mr. K. Venkataramanan conceptualized and started ‘Ritham Special School'.
The trust gives special education, physiotherapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy to intellectually challenged children as well as children with multiple disabilities like autism, down’s syndrome, and cerebral palsy. This is a daycare center, wherein a van picks up the students and drops them back at their doorsteps.
Begun as a special school only, now it is growing with an early intervention center, vocational training center, sheltered workshop, learning center, outpatient department, and autism treatment center.
They are also working towards getting effective special education available to the rural, poor, and underprivileged special students similar to the ones available to the children residing in the urban area for the past 20 years continuously.
The main and primary object of the Trust is to develop confidence in the minds of all types of physically and mentally challenged children and motivate them to face daily activities without any help. The Trust works for all students irrespective of caste, creed, colour, language, sex, and religion.
Children attending the school are mostly from economically backward families. Many do not get adequate attention to their problems from the family because of the ignorance of their parents. They are usually mild to severely affected children. The children show remarkable improvement in all aspects after started attending school.
The education and training of these children differ a lot from that of normal children. Their syllabus has to include self-dependence, etiquette, conversation, everyday activities, etc. While chalking out their syllabus their level of I.Q. and behavioural problems have to be considered. Their home environment is also required to be weighed while chalking out the syllabus. Since there is no safe method to teach these children, each child is in a class by himself requiring special attention.
They work closely with the community and educate their parents about child rights issues, government schemes for special children, etc. Ritham gives much concentration on the gender issue and educate female children and their parents about maturity and menstrual hygiene and how to safeguard them from sexual abuse.
The GOAL is to prevent children from being a burden to their families and educate them to be able to support themselves.
A Student Sri S. HariPrasath initially did his schooling in English medium. Since his teacher found him having difficulty in learning, he was recommended special education in our special school in 2006. The specialist teacher fully evaluated him and found out that he had a moderate learning disability condition. Accordingly, they framed the syllabus based on his reading and numerical skills. Thereafter, every 3 months, the student was evaluated and the syllabus was reframed accordingly. Since he was taught in such a way he easily understands, there was speedy progress in his learning ability. The teacher noticed significant progress in his learning in all three evaluations and kept on framing the syllabus accordingly. Due to this strenuous effort, there was significant progress in his writing, reading, and recitation skills. The student thereafter got through the standard 8th public examination with good marks. In parent-teacher meetings, the student expressed his willingness to appear for the 10th standard public examination. Hence it was decided in the teachers meeting to train him to appear for the 10th standard exam based on the syllabus framed by the state government for students having learning disabilities. The student was trained for the syllabus similar to the method followed for 8th standard training. The student got through with good marks in the 10th standard public examination also and is presently being trained to appear for the office assistant post. In this way, the school is making efforts and imparting personalized education.
Another case study is the story of a student named I. Guruvaiya was studying in the primary school in his native village. Since the teacher observed some changes in his learning and activities, he told his parents to admit him to the Ritham School for special children to continue his education. Thereafter from 13th July 2007 onwards, he joined Ritham school and hence has benefited from the specialized syllabus. Based on their farming experience his parents gave him training in planting saplings, irrigation, weeding, and bund forming. He was given the job of irrigating the plants of the new school campus, weeding, and maintenance of the same.
This way the school is helping children with special needs lead a dignified life and support themselves on their own.