From the moment a parent first sees their child, they pray, wish, and hope for the child to have a happy and prosperous future.
Even more so if the child is born with or forms a disability at a young age, making his or her life more challenging.
Although our society has made great strides in empowering people with disabilities, obstacles still stand in their way in several areas of life, including employment and education. Their powers have long been limited by bigotry and discrimination in society.
But Dhaleela Ahmed, 19, of Raa Maakurath demonstrated that societal obstacles are insignificant in comparison to their tenacity and diligence by being the first student with visual impairment to take the O'level exams.
Her outcomes? Remarkably impressive.
She is the first student in the Maldives to take additional subjects at O’level, even though other pupils have previously studied Dhvehi and Islam in the SSC exams.
Dhaleela stated that it posed a lot of challenges because she could not see with her eyes and she could do the exam only with the help of another person, and as such, she needed more time to do the papers on the subjects with reading and drawing. She mentioned that all the arrangements had been done for her after speaking with the Education ministry.
Dalila Ahmed took the O’level exam last year and registered for 5 subjects. She achieved an A in Islam and Dhivehi, a C in Chemistry, and a D in both English and Business.
She expressed her happiness at her victory to “The Press” team and expressed a desire for future success for many just like her. Dhalia stated that many like have proven that they can study and want to prove it further in the fields they want to pursue.
How did she decide to sit for the exams and how did she prepare for the exams?
Dhaleela claimed that she gave some thought to the O’level exams after studying in grade 9 and that the Ministry of Education had greatly assisted her.
Dhaleela said that she faced her O’level with the encouragement of her mother and others despite the many obstacles she faced, and she is happy that she has faced those obstacles rather than giving up.
Describing how she memorized the lessons, Dhaleela said she learned the lessons by attending tutoring sessions as well as by recording subjects like Islam.
Dhaleela said she took tuition for subjects such as chemistry as they include diagrams and she found it difficult to learn them during school hours with all the children around.
The 19-year-old student described Biology as her favorite subject and mentioned that she put a great effort into her studies and that it showed in her results from the subject. But she said that she had to give up the subject for her exams and that it was one of the hardest things she had to do.
Dhaleela’s mom had been her most loyal supporter
Speaking to "The Press," Dhaleela's mother Sameema Adam revealed that she had been trying to teach Dhaleela since she was young.
Sameema claimed that when Dhaleela began studying grade 9, she began to discuss how to prepare Dhaleela for the exams with her teachers and had met the principal of the school and told him she wanted Dhaleela to be given the chance to do the O’ level exam.
The principal and he had informed her that the ministry said it was not aware of any such child studying eight subjects in any schools, in the Maldives. After that, the ministry calls Dhaleela, and recommended her admission to a center in the province, to prepare her for life, however her mom did want to not accept that.
Dhaleela's mother said that a representative of the ministry and a teacher from Iskander School went to Maakurathu School to speak with Dhaleela and told her that she should be kept in Grade 9 for one more year to prepare her for the test.
Sameema added that since Dhaleela also wished for the same, she had agreed to it.
Dhaleela's mother was ready to provide her with the education she needed and was also ready to facilitate the education. She wanted to prove that even such children with disabilities have the potential to learn a lot and accomplish a lot if given the chance.
Sameema said that as a student Dhaleela is engaged in extracurricular activities and is currently focusing on memorization of the Qur'an.
Her mother expressed her gratitude to Ibrahim Naseem, the current principal, and Ahmed Naeem, the former principal of Maakurathu School.
A few words from Dhaleela’s Teachers
The Press has sought the sentiments of the teachers who taught and helped her make her historic achievement.
Speaking to the team her Dhivehi teacher Mohamed recognized that Dhaleela’s mother deserves the greatest credit for her efforts.
He conceded that Dhaleela did not sit for all the subjects in the O’level examination because she was a different child, and no alternative method or standard had been established to asses her.
Additionally, he said that since grade 1 Dhaleela has always been given the test in a separate place, and she was always given the practical and drawing sections cut off.
Mohammed noted that although in Dhivehi class, Dhaleela sits with all her classmates, she was a bright student.
He added Delilah is very interested in her studies, and she is a student who doesn’t get bored with her studies.
Explaining how the O’level examination was conducted, Mohammed said that audio and video were sent to the ministry while Dalila was doing the test paper.
Dhaleela's Islam teacher Musa Shamil said he is happy that a childlike Dhaleela had achieved such good results and was grateful for the opportunity to teach her.
He said that he tried to describe things to Dhaleela with great attention and did not notice much difference or difficulty in teaching her.
Shamil describes Dhaleela as a child who asks questions and finds out for herself. He also says she is very involved in group work.
Aminath Guraisha, the Grade 10 leading teacher who also taught Dhaleela business studies, said that Dhaleela was a student who bravely pursued knowledge and was never discouraged or disappointed due to her learning challenges.
She also said that Dhaleela is a very exemplary student in both initiative and leadership, in other school activities, and she prays that God will grant her even greater success in the future.
Princey, who taught her chemistry, had been Dhaleela's tutor for a long time. Princey described Dhaleela as a child with a special talent and a fiercely motivated student. While Princey had been Delilah's teacher since the sixth grade, she noted that Dhaleela was a pupil who was constantly eager to assist her peers. According to Princey, she had to overcome numerous obstacles to teach the fundamentals of chemistry, but her perseverance and bravery helped her succeed.
Seema, Dhaleela's English teacher, expressed her pride in the three years she spent teaching the student. Seema claimed that she uses Dhaleela's story as an example to other kids all the time and that she is a diligent learner who never gets bored. Seema added that Dhaleela has demonstrated that anything is possible as long as you have the determination to make it happen and that if you have bravery, you can succeed.
According to her tutor Hawwa Shiflah, who had also assisted Dalila in her O'Level exam, it was relatively simple to teach Dhaleela. She added that explaining Dhaleela's graphics was the only difficulty she faced. She is very pleased that Dhaleela has succeeded so well in a subject like chemistry, though.
Dhaleela aspires to be a psychologist
As each child moves to the first stage of his/her studies, O’level, he/she determines a field of further study. Like any other child, Dhaleela too has dreamt of this.
Dhaleela said that she intends to pursue a career in psychology, and aspires of becoming one in the future, moreover, she wants to prove that any child like her, can study and achieve their dreams.