ABU(Senior group) Excellent Work
Residential School for Blind; Personal Experience
Sri Lanka
Nimal Jayarathna(57, Male)

Life success can be dependent on the vast experiences gained from birth human experience various aspects of life. The inventor of Empiricism Descartes theory is that “a mind bereft of even a little thought is comparable to a play board without the item required to play. The experience so gained shows instant development of capacity of thought.
The renowned German philosopher George Barclay confirms Descartes’ theory. Accordingly life will be fruitful from experience gained.
A blind child is one with a visual impairment. The hostel of the school for the blind is a lamp that illuminates the life of the child. This is the perfect ground for education. It is necessary to elaborate on the word “experienced”. Experience is what the individual gains perfecting practical measures. Empiricism is the knowledge gained practically. The blind child’s scope for obtaining experience is limited. For this reason the child feels incomplete. The child who is unable to obtain residential facilities in prevented from being active due to social inhibitions. The ideal way to overcome these social obstacles is to reside within schools.
In integrating a blind child into society the staff of the blind school are the best equipped. The staff possesses the best knowledge to fulfil this task. The blind school becomes the training grounds for the child. Therefore it is felt that blind students should complete up to GCE (Ordinary Level) while residing at the school. Otherwise in the absence of such education, the child being integrated into society will not be wholesome. A blind child who is educated at a sighted school will only be able to progress at tortoise pace. I am able to state this position on the success I have achieved in my life.
Enrolling in the school for the blind at the age of 8 years did not permit me to enter training through the back door. There were many factors that contributed towards this. I failed to pay proper respect to my father when he departed from the school after handing me over to the school. Is it a matter for surprise that coming from a poor rural background I was ignorant of these traditions? The matron of the school taught me the appropriate way of paying such respects like a mother would teach a child. I made it my duty to enlighten my world through the experience I gained.
I had been used to use my finger with toot powder to brush my teeth. The morning after I arrived at school the matron gave me a piece of charcoal to clean my teeth. The matron who observed me rubbing the charcoal against my teeth, very caringly advised me to chew the charcoal and clean my teeth. Practically this was a very heartening experience to me. This was a useful foundation for maintaining personal hygiene and cleanliness.
 
How does a child make tomorrow free and independent? Although being groomed as a resident student, the child has to be trained to integrate into society. Under the mobility and orientation scheme at the school, I gained skill and competence in the use of the white cane. Through this training I received comprehensive knowledge by using the white cane which is the identification symbol of the blind. This enables us to independently travel without fear.
During my stay at the school two vital qualities I gained were unity and brotherly relationship. I was appointed Head Prefect whilst in Grade 9. Students are not permitted to leave the school without prior intimation. On one occasion four students left the school without permission I was aware of this although the Hostel Master was not aware. This was the first occasion I was confronted with the dilemma of whether I should exercise my duty as prefect or betray my colleagues. I felt like an arecanut caught in a cracker and I remained silent. Through information obtained from another source, my duties as Head Prefect were suspended for a week. From this incident I realized that such indiscipline should not be condoned. Thereafter I carried out exemplary. With the theory of education through experience of China’s Mao Tse Tung was inculcated in me through an experience.
Sports and recreation contribute towards a healthy population. In accordance with this saying my school has a systematic and methodical sports programme. Since I enrolled in the school I had the assistance of a colleague to get about. Gradually I started to walk in the playground. I jumped, ran and danced. Also had friendly scuffles with others. I played cricket with enthusiasm. Though at the outset I found it difficult to work by myself, participation in sports enables me to perform balancing acts on the playing field. I was appointed House Prefect. I achieved success in long jump, high jump, triple jump, putt shot and relay events. Under my leadership, my House won the inter-house title several times. The school for the blind provides vital platform to develop sporting talents. In sighted schools, a blind child can only remain inside the class or the hostel and idle.
The most significant attributes from being in a residential school is to achieve a complete education and exercise. Extracurricular activities held after dinner provided an opportunity for us to sharpen our skills and knowledge. Participation in activities of these societies provided me an opportunity to widen my knowledge and experiences. By serving as President and Secretary I obtained useful training for the future. It is doubtful whether a blind child studying in a sighted school, would get the opportunity to serve in these capacities.
The principal has often said that a bell is rung to indicate an event. Why did he constantly repeat this advice? To attend to specific item at specified time was evolved into my daily routine through practice at school. The time tables at our school were not confined to classroom only. Specific times had been allocated for school and after school events.
 
Every evening from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. we are supposed to go to the playground. If one fails to report to the playground, it will be deemed that one has remained for that period of time. In order to emphasise the requirements to be at the appropriate time, I was ordered not to report at the playground for one week. From the experience I thus derived, I now use the same advice for my children. Though such punishment was a mental worry, today the knowledge I thus gained is of tremendous benefit to my professional and family life.
There are amongst people with various mindsets and point of views. Being involved in emotional relationships is not something new for the blind. I wrote my first love letter to one of my classmates. Our relationship was sincere and genuine. Our affair had been completely divulged to the principal by my best friend. Again I was subjected to punishment. By suspending me for classes for three weeks, the principal invalidated two loving hearts. My best friend was delighted by this turn of events. I obtained insight into different human qualities through these experiences. These experiences can be useful not only for blind students but also for the sighted. By studying these events one can come to various conclusions. However, I was not discouraged by the three weeks suspension. Day by day, my life was illuminated. I was able to overcome all the challenges. As I progress from class to class, my achievements in terms of marks kept improving. I decided to be more wiser in associating with friends.
“Education is derived not only from books” is the assertion of Educationalist Margaret Mead. She also asserts that involving extracurricular activities only one can have a complete education. In this way, the school provided us the opportunity to engage in such extra activities. By conducting inter-house competition amongst three house annually, a competitive spirit was nourished.
Competition was conducted between our school and the other neighbouring schools. I had the opportunity of leading the school teams on some occasions. Due to this mutually cordial relationships were established. It is doubtful whether a blind child studying in a sighted school would come by such opportunities.
All these commendable traits were obtained by me from the guidance and advice of my teachers and superiors. These facts clearly establish that studying in a residential blind school helps build up an individual who will have all the attributes of an ideal citizen.

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