BENGALURU: Blind students struggle to find scribes. Thirty per cent do not manage to find one, approximates an NGO that has worked with the disabled for years.
If the students do, after they have worked on their lessons for a year and have convinced all around them that they can do as well as another able student, the scribe may not turn up on the day of the exam. It breaks the students’ courage and any interest to keep at their studies.
A student, who wishes to remain anonymous, says that he quit his graduation and any plan on further studies after his scribe backed out hours before his exam.
“I got a scribe with a non-Profit organisation’s help,” he says. “But on the exam day, two hours before the examination, the scribe called me over phone and told that he won’t be attending. Imagine, one year of your hard work goes in vain.” This was not a one-off incident. “This has happened repeatedly,” he says. “I will now do some vocational training and will quit regular studies.”
This happens 50% of the time, says Prashanth N Rao, founder president of Amrutha Bindu and who maintains data base of scribes to assist the blind. “They call and cancel last minute.”
25-year-old software engineer Sathyanarayan has been volunteering as a scribe since June this year. He has never had to cancel, because he volunteers on weekends, but Sathyanarayan says that cancellations could happen because of personal emergencies. “There may have been an unavoidable situation,” he says.
Santhosh Kumar, 26, has been volunteering as a scribe for a year in the city. He says emergencies at work may also lead to backing out at the last minute.
“You might have some issues at work at the last minute. Last weekend, when I was supposed to go as scribe but I had some emergency at work... There were some production issues,” he says. But Santhosh did not leave the student. He instead asked a friend to help out at work. “I managed to get a back-up for a few hours at work and returned after finishing the exam,” he says. “If you do not have anyone to help during such situations, you may be forced to stay back at work,” he says.
Roopa, who graduated from Karnataka State Open University and is a Canara Bank employee, says that she too has had many scribes walking out on her in the last minute. Even finding one is tough, she says. “You need to find one who is less qualified than you,” she says.
Scribes only need to write for the exams and so language skills should do. But few colleges in the city impose criteria based on age and qualification, say students.
Prashanth of Amrutha Bindu says, “We get at least 30 to 50 requests for scribes every month. This number goes up to around 200 during exam season. Generally, we can manage 70 for every 100 students but, frequently, the scribes are either disqualified citing age or over qualification or scribes back out last minute. This brings down the number of scribes to half the number of students.” Finding scribes who are proficient in Kannada is all the more difficult.