If there is a will, there is a way. The living example is this 17-year-old girl, who was born without forearms but overcame her disability through sheer grit and determination. Vithyasri, of Arcadu Government Higher Secondary School, who wrote the SSLC exams gripping the pen with her toes, has secured first class from the state board. She scored 57 in Tamil, 77 in English, 66 in mathematics, 69 in science and 60 in social sciences. She is the school topper in English. 'I love science and wish to become a science teacher to help students like me excel in studies,' said Vithyasri. She is optimistic that she would be able to perform all mandatory practical exercises involved in higher secondary science subjects. The girl has never failed in any class. The first of the five daughters of M Annamalai and Palaniammal, daily wage labourers from Arcadu village, 30 km from Villupuram town, was born with a congenital deformity on May 19, 1992. However, her maternal grandmother Veerammal (58) started teaching her to use her legs to perform the basic minimum functions. She also taught her to learn to write using her legs. Vithyasri initially joined a special school when she was five years but evinced keen interest in joining a regular school. Two years later, the little girl was able to join standard one in a regular school.
Years of hard work paid off and Vithyasri started writing legibly using her toes and also started to perform basic functions. 'Now she is able to carry out all activities except drying herself after a bath,' said Veerammal. The Villupuram district education authorities understanding her difficulties granted her one additional hour for SSLC examinations. PG assistant and incharge of Arcadu GHSS N Antony Mariselvam took special care in approaching the competent authorities in the education department and obtaining permission for the additional hour for the student. Villupuram chief education officer P A Naresh said 12 special children including Vithyasri in the district were granted one hour additional time to complete the examinations. The district has improved its performance by almost six percent in SSLC examinations when compared to last year. The district registered 74.11 % pass percentage in SSLC examinations this year.