A school for hearing-impaired children : The Founder’s vision
“DARSHAN” is a special school established under the aegis of the Lala Chaman Lal Educational Trust for Boys and the Smt Bhagwan Devi Educational Trust for Girls, is a Public Charitable Trust, registered under the Societies Registration Act 1860 on 11 April 2000, and is located in Jaipur, Rajasthan. It is a day school, exclusively for hearing impaired children studying upto Class X.
Darshan has been founded by Shri Navin B Chawla, then a serving officer of the Indian Administrative Service, who went on to become India’s 16th Chief Election Commissioner. As executor of the terms of the Will of his late uncle, Lt Cdr D N Chawla, (Indian Navy, retd.,) to set up an educational institution each for boys and girls, he decided to set up a school and institute for disabled children and youth, because he felt the dearth of such institutions in the country. The Trustees decided to begin with a single disability, and hearing impairment was chosen to start with. Darshan as it stands today is a product of that vision. From a mere handful of children in 2006, Darshan has grown in 2019 to 92 children in 10 classes, keeping within the international norm of no more than 9 to10 children in one class. The teachers are qualified special educators, who are certified by the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI). Classes range from Class 1 to Class 10. The Class 10 Board examination was recently recognized by the Education Department of the Government of Rajasthan. All 92 children are fitted with hearing aids in both ears, free of charge, donated by the generosity of the Starkey Foundation. Without this, Darshan’s work would not have been possible.
Mission: Empower differently-abled children with aspirations and skills to build their livelihoods. Skilling provides confidence, life-coping skills, and dignity.
Our unshakable commitment lies in our tenets:
- That children with disabilities equally full of potential.
- To make quality education a reality for children with disabilities.
- To create opportunities for social and intellectual growth and development.
- To provide vocational, technical and professional training wherever possible.
- To build a network and data resources for potential employment for disabled youth.
A friendly environment for the disabled
Darshan is housed in one of the most “disabled-friendly” buildings in India. Designed by the Jaipur-based architect Amit Gehlot, it was built on a comparatively modest budget using, as far as possible local stone and other materials. On the request of its founder, the 2 storey building is functional, airy, bright and with wide corridors and doors to render it wheelchair-friendly, Navin Chawla wanted the architect to prepare a design that would enable the building to be flooded with natural light, and to provide for an airy atmosphere even in the heat of Rajasthan summer. Amit Gehlot stood up to this challenge. It is no surprise that Amit’s design was short listed for the Aga Khan Award for architecture. However, as actual classes could not be started at the time of consideration for paucity of funds which was a necessary requirement for the Aga Khan Committee the Darshan failed to make it to the final stage. Darshan is housed in one of the most “disabled-friendly” buildings in India. Designed by the Jaipur-based architect Amit Gehlot, it was built on a comparatively modest budget which was kept, as far as possible, by using local materials, wherever possible. On the request of the Founder, the 2 storey building is functional, airy, bright and with wide corridors and doors to render it wheelchair-friendly. The architect so prepared a design that would enable the building to be suffused with natural light and provided it with an airy atmosphere, even in the heat of Rajasthan’s summer months and its arid climate. It is no surprise that Amit’s design was short listed for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. However, as actual work could not be started at the time of consideration, which was a necessary requirement for the Aga Khan Committee, Darshan’s nomination could not make it to the final stage. Nevertheless, Darshan and Mr. Amit Gehlot are proud possessors of a nomination letter from the Aga Khan Trust (See Box).
Today, a visit to the Darshan building is to witness its open spaces, high ceilings, generous light, and fine proportions which Amit so ably created for use by children of all disabilities, including the visually impaired and the physically challenged. The design is as close to nature as is possible given Rajasthan’s arid climate. Three open court yards are planted with grass and trees. Its design and execution have also successfully kept the cost of electricity, power bills and maintenance, to a minimum. Every rupee thus saved, helps Darshan pay for its much needed therapists and special educators that the children require.
Darshan also remains grateful to Amit’s father Mr. CS Gehlot and brother Mr. Sumit Gehlot whose construction firm constructed the building at minimal cost.