For the past several months, a 12-year-old boy with disabilities from Kerala has been knocking on all possible doors so that he can continue his education.
Muhammed Asim, a native of Kozhikode, does not have hands and suffers from a 90% disability, according to his family. A Class 7 student, he now studies in an Upper Primary School in Omassery panchayat, hardly 250 meters from his house. From the next academic year onwards, Asim will be required to enrol at a higher secondary school and the nearest one is at least 5 km from his home. For Asim, who needs the help of his parents to commute and go about his daily life, shifting to a far-away school comes with many challenges.
The young boy has been requesting the state government to upgrade his upper primary school to a higher secondary school, so that he can continue studying there.
This has been Asim’s mission for the past six months, where he has met several ministers and requested them to grant his plea. However, Asim’s efforts have failed to bear fruit so far. Asim, along with his family, also met the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan earlier this week, with the same request.
The meeting with the CM was the second in three months, after Asim has sent a letter to Pinarayi Vijayan last year. With no hands, he wrote the letter using his feet and had sent it to the CM. Although the CM had given an assurance to look into the matter, he has now said that the school cannot be upgraded, says Asim’s father Muhammad Sayyad, a madrassa teacher.
Speaking to TNM over phone, Sayyad says that the family wants the government to consider Asim’s as a special case.
“We have met everyone. From MLAs to ministers to the CM… everyone. The CM told us that it is not possible, but we still have hope,” Sayyad says.
In 2014, the school was upgraded from Lower Primary School to UP school, after the then CM Oommen Chandy had intervened.
“That time, we had met Oommen Chandy, requesting for an arrangement wherein Asim can study in Class 5. But then he asked us whether our requirement ends at that and offered to upgrade the school so that Asim could study there till Class 7,” Sayyad explains.
While the family expected the same response from the current government, they were in for disappointment.
After writing to the CM last year, Asim also sent a video message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking his intervention.
In the video, Asim says in Malayalam that he wants the PM’s help to continue his education. A Facebook page Justice4Asim was also created.
“#Jusitce4Asim is a tribute to the inspiring spirit of little Asim, who just wants his school upgraded. This is a campaign reminding Kerala Government to fulfil Asim’s desire at the earliest. If the school is upgraded to a High School level, it is just not Asim alone will benefit, but the entire village as well (sic),” reads a post on the page.
Sayyad says that although the CM had said the upgrade was not possible, the family still has hope. Last week, Asim wrote letters to Union Ministers Sushma Swaraj and Prakash Javadekar, seeking intervention.
When TNM reached out to state General Education Department, Director of Public Instruction KV Mohankumar said that as per the instruction of the Education Minister, the Deputy Director of Education has been asked to submit a report on whether Asim’s school can be upgraded.