English Classes at the premises of British Council Nepal were packed with students ready for Elementary and Pre Intermediate English language lessons. All of them were English enthusiasts, ready to improve their English language skills, but five of the students were different, as they were on wheelchairs. After one month of classes at the British Council, Shristi, Marketing and Communications Officer got in touch with them to hear about their experience of learning English at the British Council.
With a big grin on their faces, the five students propelled their wheel chairs and gathered in the open courtyard at Nepal Spinal Cord Injury Sports Association (NSCISA) to share their experiences with Shristi.
Laxmi Ghimire, 19, recalls “As English is a universal language, I was very happy to acquire such an opportunity. The listening modules helped me immensely in improving my grammar and vocabulary. I now feel more confident in speaking in English.” The participants unanimously voiced how enriching their experience was. “When I first saw the signs of wheelchairs outside in the parking lot and in toilet doors, I felt really pleased to see that there was accessibility to wheelchair users too. We felt independent for not having to seek someone’s assistance. ” proclaims Laxmi.
Apart from the rewarding teaching techniques from various trainers, which they could easily comprehend and grasp, they were happy to receive equal opportunities to participate in classroom activities along with other pupils.Gayatri Dahal, 40, who is currently working as one of the Board Members in NSCISA reminiscence: “All of us were given equal opportunities to actively participate and interact in the group sessions regardless of any disability. This boosted our confidence to express ourselves and be heard. Also the course has been really fruitful for me because I can now write better emails to my friends abroad.”
The participants were deeply touched to have been acknowledged with open arms. Hemkala Sunuwar highlights “After entering the premises, the security guards, English trainers and everyone else welcomed us and gave us assistance whenever required. They were very co-operative, polite and friendly; we felt like one and connected.”
Whilst President, Kishor Bahadur Shahi, 35, couldn’t attend most of the classes, he was prompt in sharing how the opportunity benefited him. “I have now made a routine to carry my Oxford dictionary wherever I go. It has helped me a lot to improve my vocabulary. There are many of my friends with a disability who are eager to participate too.”
British Council Nepal has always been conscious about serving differently abled people. To hear positive words directly from the beneficiaries, it feels good and it proves that we are on the right track. This feedback will not put us in a relaxed state but encourage us to do more. Nepal has 1.95% of its population with some form of disability but their visibility in society is very low due to infrastructure limitation, stigma in society resulting in excluding them from basic services, including education.