According to the World Health Organisation, around 466 million people worldwide have hearing loss disabilities, and 34 million of these are children! The prevalence in this age group is greatest in the Asia Pacific and sub-Saharan Africa.
With India having the largest young population globally, there is a need to empower these children and provide them with opportunities for higher education. Like most students, they are equally capable of excelling academically; however, they lack the exposure that would nurture & showcase their educational & professional talent.
Taking up this challenge of reaching out to children with hearing disabilities and building inclusive spaces in society, Aman Sharma founded Training and Educational Centre for Hearing impaired (TEACH) – a not-for-profit organisation working towards providing higher education & development opportunities for hearing impaired students to pursue careers of their interest. This, in turn, will help them lead their lives independently and successfully by assisting in their personal, professional and social development. TEACH’s objective is to be a stepping stone by aligning the hearing-impaired students with higher education.
“After analysing the education scenario in Mumbai, I realised that 200 deaf children pass out of SSC without learning English and Mathematics. This is due to the lack of primary vocational-based training that students are considered incompetent for higher education in English,” highlights Aman.
He goes on to state that, “The situation for such students becomes increasingly difficult as less than 1 per cent of colleges or universities in India are equipped to teach them. There are over 19 lakh students in India with hearing disabilities who are waiting to pursue higher education and transform their lives.”
Aman’s social entrepreneurial journey started as he was pursuing his MBA in Business Administration and volunteering for various social organisations. During this time, he realised that none of his classmates were visually or hearing impaired.
“I looked deep into my surroundings only to find out that owing to the lack of educational facilities, these students never get an opportunity to completely come out of their shell. This pushes them into an inferiority complex,” sighs Aman.
Deeply moved by this situation, Aman took a one month break and joined hands with Deepesh (Co-founder, TEACH) and Nasrulla Adamji (Operations Lead, TEACH) to analyse the challenges faced by students who are hearing impaired in schools. “After a rigorous on-ground research, we found out that the hearing-impaired students were never taught English and Mathematics. They were confined to subjects like ladoo making, saree bordering or any other vocational subjects. This restricted their ability to pursue higher secondary education. According to government regulations, 1% of the jobs are reserved for the hearing impaired; however, the minimum eligibility is graduation. Keeping in view the fact that these students never learn English and Mathematics, it is a rare case scenario for them to be graduates; making it impossible for them to reap the benefits of the reservations.” informs Aman.
What started with just 20, is today a classroom of 71 students with TEACH.
TEACH is a pioneer in higher education for deaf children in Mumbai with the highest number of children in their program. 23 of deaf children today are getting ready for the upcoming HSC boards and TEACH is currently working on extending it’s higher education facility to graduation. They aim to establish a college dedicated to students with hearing disabilities.
They have recently partnered with Mulund Rotary School for Deaf, where they have created a School Transformation Project which is purely for the deaf students between the classes of 2nd – 7th. TEACH aims to establish a college dedicated to students with hearing disabilities. Along with reaching out to students in Mumbai, TEACH plans to spread its footprint across other cities in the near future.
“We dream to make it big by setting examples, producing more examples and leading the change,” says Aman
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