When the eyes and hearts are closed, that can be a difficult thing. It stops you from seeing things from a different point of view, a different perspective. But most importantly, I feel, it prevents you from empathizing towards those who may not be as fortunate or as lucky as you are .
I have a story to tell. A sad, but true story to tell. It’s about a special boy, from a Special Needs class in a local secondary school. This boy was vision-impaired. Although he had problems with his sight, that did not stop him from leading his life as normal as possible. In fact in his school where he sat for his SPM, he was placed in a normal class, with the other average Joes. He was a hard worker, listening attentively to the teachers in class and occasionally checking his notes with his mates. Often one would see him placing the reference book only a few centimeters away from his face when revising. The only preferential treatment he received was during exam, where his exam papers would be enlarged to A3. Aside from that, he was just like any other kid.
Perhaps it was his perseverance and the will to do well in life, that pushed him to excel in his SPM. When the results were announced, he did very well. Scoring a string of As, where other “normal” kids have failed to do. This didn’t surprise the teachers as he often managed to score high marks in his tests and exams. So when he was called to continue his studies in Form 6 at a neighbouring school, he was very excited. To give support and encouragement, one of the Special Needs teachers accompanied him to his new school. She went to assist him in registering and perhaps meet somebody there to give some background info on the boy.
However, the new school was far from welcoming. The administrators’ reaction to his presence at the school was very negative. The boy was taken aside and a private conversation ensued between him and the school administrators. Whatever transpired between the boy and the administrators of that school remains unknown. But it is suffice to say, that when he was later met by his teacher, he was in tears. To this day, he has refused to reveal what has been said to him in that private conversation. When asked if he wanted to study there, the answer was a definite NO! His spirit had been broken.
I am angry and I am ashamed. More so of the latter, as I too am a teacher, and I feel that we of all people should be more sensitive or understanding towards those who want to learn. What right do we have to prevent one from achieving one’s fullest potential? Who are we to cloud over the dreams of others? How hard is it to give the boy a chance? Perhaps, God willing he may do well in his STPM, and the school might even share the limelight of his success. From where I’m standing, I see him who is vision-impaired. Not blind, mind you. Just a regular boy with some problems with his eyesight. It is the administrators who are blind, for not seeing the gem he is. Buta di mata dan buta di hati.