A group of Persons with Disabilities (PwD) have been on fast for four days, demanding the government provide them with jobs in elementary schools. However, even after more than half of them fell unconscious and had to be admitted to the Government Royapettah Hospital, the protesters are yet to catch the authorities’ or the opposition parties’ attention.
The 56 Persons with Disabilities have been staging their protest on the banks of the Cooum, on the Link Road behind the Quaid-e-Millath Government College for Women. All of them have completed a two-year diploma course in teacher education at the Secondary Grade Teachers Training Institute for the Visually and Orthopaedically Handicapped Persons, Poonamallee.
R Sudhakar, president, Tamil Nadu Differently Abled Special Trained Teachers Welfare Association, told City Express, “The 72 people who have completed their courses between 2004 and 2008 were hired as teachers in government primary schools across Tamil Nadu. But since then, none has been placed. Those who completed between 2008 and 2013 haven’t been absorbed into government schools.”
Sudhakar said the Association had moved Madras High Court on the issue last year, after which the court directed the government to consider the teachers with disabilities.
“Since I lost both my legs to polio, I am now dependent on my brothers and my widowed mother for my livelihood. There are not many private institutions that are open to recruiting PwD. I am now 37 and am still dependent on others for my daily needs. We can only look to the government for help,” said R Rajeshwari, one of the protesters.
Despite the daily challenges they face, M Poonkodi, another protester says, “We are determined to make the authorities hear our voice.”