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August 19, 2005

Special school, noble aim

From:, China - Aug 19, 2005

To explain why he liked his art teacher the best, 16-year-old Dainzin Tanam could not write more words than a simple sentence: "Because he teaches me painting."
In the eyes of his teachers and peers at the Lhasa Special Education School, the deaf boy was a little painter. Five years ago, however, all Tanam could do was to stay in bed until noon, and then stare at the sky through the window, waiting for his parents' return.
His mother Yangzom said she had no other choice but to lock him in the house every day as she and her husband had to work and they did not want to allow the boy to roam the streets.
"Every day when I came back home and saw my lonely poor son, my heart cried. But now I can finally feel a bit relieved," the mother said.
She said it was the school that changed his son. "Without the school, I dared not imagine how my son would be now."
The family lives near the Ramogia Monastery in Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region. The mother runs a grocery and the father is a driver. Tanam has a brother and a sister, who are now both in primary school.
With a governmental fund of 4.5 million yuan (US$555,500), the special education school was founded in 2000. The only government-run school for handicapped children in Tibet, it now has 28 teachers and 120 school children in nine classes of five grades. Eight classes in the school are for deaf kids and the other one is for blind children.
Students can enjoy free food, boarding, clothing and medical services in the school, which is open to deaf and blind children from all over the autonomous region.
Tibetan sign language and Tibetan braille are basic courses here. Colorful illustrations for the Tibetan sign language are painted on the wall along the stairways, and the slope corridor is designed for the blind.
Children also have Tibetan, Chinese, mathematics, science, painting, dancing and sports lessons.
Tanam loves painting best.
A "black and white" textbook seemed appealing among the colorful books in Tanam's schoolbag. The text was handwritten.
It was the Tibetan language textbook compiled and written by teachers themselves.
"As textbooks for students in ordinary schools sometimes are too abstract and hard for the kids to understand, two other teachers and I compiled the textbook to make things easier for them," said teacher Dawa.
"We don't have a color duplicating machine, so we can only give these kids black and white ones," he added.
There are still four years before Tanam graduates. Schoolmaster Huang Wenhong, however, said the school has already started to think of these children's future.
"We hope the children can enjoy their life by supporting themselves after leaving here. I think this is the purpose of my school," Huang said.


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