In addition to regular academics, Bukkaraya Samudram School (BKS) uses sports and cultural activities to empower its hearing and speech impaired students.
‘I have seen countless less fortunate individuals. Through me they learnt to live a life of hope. They learnt to play like the best athletes in the world, to train like there was no tomorrow, to study with earnest dedication and to perform like confident artists. They began to dream big. They discovered that they were equally, if not more, competent than those around them. They realised that they did not have to live at the mercy of others to live a good life. Every brick in my walls can tell you a story – stories of joy and happiness, of empowerment, of growth and development and of life-changing opportunities.’ — If they could talk, this is what the walls of Rural Development Trust’s High School of Hearing and Speech Impaired, Bukkaraya Samudram(BKS), would probably say.
The school’s story began in 2008, when the Rural Development Trust (RDT) commissioned BKS to be a one-of-its-kind institution in Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh. The school was established to support and guide children with hearing and speech impairments.
In addition to delivering quality education, the school has also dedicated itself to ensuring the personality development and character building of its students through sports and other cultural activities.
While the influence of sports on personality development is undeniable, this non-academic focus has also had the added benefit of helping attract more children to attend school.
BKS, unlike most schools in the region, boasts of a cricket ground, a tennis court, a volleyball court, a basketball court, a play area for younger children as well as indoor halls for badminton, chess and other games. For children who are more inclined towards the arts, BKS also offers activities centred around classical and non-classical dance, miming and handicrafts.
The values of RDT have been the driving inspiration for all activities and operations of the school since its inception. The school aims to create awareness about differently-abled individuals by educating parents and family members of its differently-abled students.
Through sensitisation workshops during home visits, primary school teachers help families and friends understand the enormous potential of their students and all the things they are capable of achieving regardless of their handicap.
All stakeholders are made to understand that these children are not a liability but are, in fact, an asset to society.
In addition to academic learning, BKS trains its students in all aspects of life. Students undergo sports training for every sport available on campus. They are also involved in cultural activities and basic handicraft training.
After five to six years in primary school, the children become knowledgeable enough to choose an activity that they will continue participating in during their secondary school education. Their exposure to sports and personality development activities gives them an air of confidence that makes taking crucial decisions like this very easy.
It is during this time that students discover how their education, as well as participation in various activities, have transformed them into strong, independent individuals.
BKS students also participate in Unified Sports, a sports initiative where differently-abled individuals and abled individuals compete against each other. It is here that BKS students realise their true potential as they compete neck-to-neck with their able-bodied counterparts, doing as well as, if not better than, them. The most famed achievement for BKS students has been in the area of cricket, where their team won the Rural Cricket Tournament thrice!
BKS alumni have also brought laurels to the institute with their efforts. So far, as many as 49 of former students have participated at the National Level for various sports like chess, athletics and cricket.
Pranusha Rani, an alum of BKS, even represented India at the South Asian Championship for Chess in 2009.
As if their achievements in sports were not praiseworthy enough, BKS students have also outdone themselves in their quest for excellence in the fields of dance, drama and clay modelling. At least nine students have won the prestigious Navaras Bharath Rajahansa Award for classical dance.
Countless students have proven to be a great inspiration to others, through their work in the national level competitions for visual arts and clay modelling.
This holistic approach to education, with its focus on sports and cultural activities, leads to the creation of confident young individuals. These students go on to pursue their education, often completing their graduation and post-graduation before taking up full-time jobs that allow them to become independent and self-sufficient.
RDT’s work does not end with ensuring that these students complete their schooling. Academically inclined students are given the opportunity to pursue their education with the support of RDT. Others are offered vocational training courses and training in skills such as handicrafts, carpentry, pottery, gardening and cooking.
Since its inception, the Bukkaraya Samudram High School has changed the lives of more than 300 students, 13 of whom are currently pursuing their post-graduation and seven of whom have successfully completed their education to lead fulfilling and rich lives.