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Visually impaired students left high and dry without a building to study in

Visually impaired students left high and dry without a building to study in

ABBOTTABAD: Students of a school for visually impaired girls, along with their teachers, on Monday protested against the Tehsil Municipal Administration for denying them proper school premises and demanded they be provided a government building.

Students and staff of the Light House School for Blind Girls took out a procession from Empire Cinema Road to the office of the District Development Advisory Committee (DDAC) chairman. Students were carrying placards demanding relocation to a government building instead of being left out under the open sky. The students then staged a sit-in outside the DDAC Chairman and MPA Sardar Muhammad Idrees’s office after which MNA Dr Azhar Jadoon, MPA Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha and Idrees assured their support to students and promised to provide them a building.

Talking to journalists, the school’s vice principal Sardar Ayaz said he has been imparting free education and lodging to these girls since 2002. During last week’s heavy rain, the rented school building in Banda Sapaan area of the city was inundated, forcing the administration to seek government help. He said on his request Hazara Commissioner Abid Ali Khan relocated them to one of the rooms at the All Pakistan Women Association’s (APWA) building.

Later, when the school furniture, computers and Braille books were shifted into the new space, the Abbottabad chief municipal officer (CMO) asked the school administration to vacate the building citing space shortage.

“The CMO came with over 40 sanitation workers and attempted to forcibly throw us out of the school,” claimed Ayaz, adding some administration officials then intervened and stalled the process. But the CMO said he would return and have the building vacated one way or the other, said the school’s vice principal.

Ayaz said the commissioner’s office was now giving him mixed signals, with one assistant commissioner supporting his cause while the other siding with the CMO.

Ayaz said he had been running the school along with a hostel and with no place to go, was forced to send the girls back to their homes after arranging their stay at a local hotel for a few days. He said of the 20 girls, a majority are from far-flung areas and he could no longer afford their stay at hotels.

He said students with special needs from grade one to six have now been deprived of education as the Light House School is the only one of its kind in the entire region.

Abbottabad District Commissioner Matiullah Khan said he was trying to relocate the school to another government building while the CMO said they had provided the school a single room on a temporary basis.

Express Tribune

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