Currently, there are only three schools for children with Visual impairment in the country which Rwanda Union for the Blind (RUB) says it’s among hindrances of education system to this group of people.
These schools are located at HVP Gatagara (Rwamagana) and Gahini in Eastern Province and Kibeho in Nyaruguru District, Southern Province.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of reading competition among children with visual impairment, on Thursday, 26 September 2019, the deputy Chairman of Rwanda Union of the Blind, Matusalem Nshimyumuremyi, said a lot have been done to promote education of people with disability in Rwanda.
However, it’s hard to meet the national inclusive education policy with the very limited number of schools for children with vision loss.
He said: “We are doing the advocacy to meet the national policy of inclusive education. Every child needs to find a school near his home.”
Beata Nyirabahizi the Acting Director of National Library, has emphasized the need of more schools for blind children through partnership between the government and other institutions.
Apart from a limited number of schools for the blind, there are others obstacles of their education, according to Dr Betty Mukarwego, a lecturer at University of Rwanda, College of Education.
These include insufficient braille materials and books to read from primary up to university level. This prevents the students from doing researches as they want, because google is the only way to help them, she said.
Anita Niyonasenze, a senior two student from School of Blind of Kibeho, is grateful of the way the country value and help people with different disabilities. But there is still a long way to go.
“We are happy, we didn’t think we could be included but the government has valued us. Today we attend school like others and sometimes we perform better than children without disability”, she said.
“But missing books for reading can lead to poor performance in class. We have no computers and we cannot all afford the white canes”, she added.
RUB was established in 1995 to fight for rights of people with visual impairment in the country. The first blind students were registered in the University of Rwanda in 2008.
Competitions constitute one platform to show potentials among blind children
The reading competitions among blind students using braille are part of activities of the National Literacy Month (8-30 September 2019).
They were organised by the Ministry of Sports and Culture in partnership with RUB and Soma Rwanda.
Final stage took place in Masaka Resource Centre of the Blind, Kicukiro District. The participants were 10 students from HVP Rwamagana and School of the Blind Kibeho as one school failed to participate.
The awards of best performers include school materials. The best stories will also be published and used in school books.
Competitions are one way of expressing the potential of people with vision loss; they have written good stories and they read them correctly”, Beata Nyirabahizi said.
They are also a platform to show parents what children are capable of so as not to consider them inept. Through competitions students are encouraged to like school and fostering a reading culture, officials said.