Lack of equipment hampers education of the blind
Visually impaired people have complained about serious challenges depriving them from getting an equal chance to education, although Rwanda’s schooling target is to achieve education for all.
“In our recent visit to different schools and higher learning institutions, we found that little has been done to include blind children although our education policy is education for all,” said Donatile Kanimba, the executive secretary of the Rwanda Union of the Blind (RUB).
She made the observation yesterday in a consultative meeting gathering some of the union’s stakeholders to discuss the challenges and formulate recommendations to concerned institutions in order to achieve a decent education for the blind.
According to Kanimba, the challenges include lack of access to education facilities. “We now have children traveling very long distances to attend primary or secondary schools while few parents can afford to pay for such costs,” she explained.
So far, Kanimba mentioned, there are only two primary schools catering for special needs – one based in Rwamagana district in Eastern province and the other one in Nyaruguru district in Southern province. There are also two secondary schools based Rwamagana and Gahini, both in Eastern province.
However, schools which provide education to such children have a problem of finding appropriate equipment since it is a domain investors are not interested in. “The schools arrange themselves to get devices for the children, which is not easy at all since there is no store around where they can be found,” Kanimba explained.
This also poses a big problem for the children, because while they can use the little equipment available at school, once they graduate they are left empty-handed, which become another challenge when seeking employment.
“We need some facilities to ensure the implementation of the policies in place,” Kanimba said. “Otherwise, our education policy would not be in any way for all.”
According to the health ministry, there are some 147,000 visually impaired people in Rwanda but among those of school age, less than 1% are enrolled.