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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hyderabad October Update

The Hyderabad IDIA Scholar Programme made its formal beginning on 12th October, 2010
Sai Junior College for the Blind founded by the Devnar Foundation for the Blind

The team has selected ten visually impaired students from Sai Junior College founded by the Devnar Foundation based on an aptitude test conducted earlier this year. For the first time, the core group of IDIA-Hyderabad met each other and the students.  Dr Saibaba Goud who heads the Foundation was kind enough to come down to interact with us and the students. Representatives from IMS were also there for most of the day, assessing the workability of the initiative.
The purpose of the meeting was primarily to conduct another test to check strengths and weaknesses of the students; however, upon learning that the students had just completed a civics exam, we decided to postpone it. Both the team and the students were inquisitive, leading to a vibrant interaction. The students showed the team how they calculate maths questions, including algebraic equations, with the use of a Taylor Board. They engaged Shamnad Sir about the Ayodhya Judgment with information they had learned from the television. He encouraged the students to give reasons for their opinions, and asked them to distinguish between political and legal reasoning. The overall impression we got was that the students were keen to learn and very well aware of current affairs. Some of them expressed an interest in the Satyam scandal and were enthusiastic to find out about what was happening to Ramalinga Raju in court.
Following Professor Shamnad, Rahul Sir, a distinguished corporate lawyer, explained the various career options available after a complete legal education. Amit Sir followed by sharing his experience as a visually impaired student in IIM-A.  He empathized with the difficulties of studying as a visually impaired student, but emphasized the importance of continued higher education to motivate similarly impaired persons to aim for the skies. On his coat-tails, the students from NUJS and NALSAR talked about college life and various opportunities that arise from attending National Law Schools.
It was heartening to see how inspired the students were and how they constantly tried to voice their own opinions, and with some encouragement, take an active part in all discussions.After the test was conducted and results were declared, the students went through a session in which every question of the paper that they had solved was discussed in detail. The students of NUJS and NALSAR along with Shamnad Sir explained the answers, and the correct reasoning to get to those answers. The question that arose most often during this process was related to how one is to go about training visually challenged students. As Sir always says “We do not have all the answers right now but will overcome every obstacle that comes along our way.”
 Although it took some re-assessment, the students are smart and extremely hardworking, with amazing powers of retention. Questions which tested reading comprehension - that is, generally lengthy questions - were answered correctly. What we realized is these students are very eager to learn and every question can be explained to them with a little patience.
The students were also provided with net-books (Samsung N150) with necessary software such as AMIS installed to make their learning simpler. The software installed converts the digitized study material to audio format to facilitate learning for them.
While most students would cherish the process of teaching in itself, the IDIA experience is that much more of a process of self-discovery in that it deals with children who have managed to devise incredibly ingenuous ways of learning for them-selves. This workshop presented us the opportunity of being part of something extraordinary, something that might change the face of legal education in the country, but will definitely change our paradigm of learning.
Students of NALSAR and NUJS along with Padma Shree awardee Dr. Sai Baba Goud (chairman of Devnar Foundation for the blind), Prof Shamnad Basheer , Mr. Rahul (a leading lawyer) and Mr. Amit Jain of IMS along with students who have been selected as IDIA Scholars

Anusha Reddy,
Hyderabad Chapter, IDIA

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