ABU(Senior group) Fine Work
“WHAT SHOULD YOUR COUNTRY DO TO COVER ALL VISUALLY IMPAIRED CHILDREN IN SCHOOL EDUATION PROGRAMME AND ALSO PROVIDE THEM QUALITY EDUCATION“
Sri Lanka P.D. NIHAL(47/male)
Education is a right that every child should enjoy. The education of the visually handicapped began in Sri Lanka with the establishment of the Deaf and BlindSchool in Ratmalana in 1912. By now there are 15 schools for the blind – 13 for the deaf and blind and 2 only for the blind.
Thousands of visually impaired students have been educated by these. There were 414 students in 1977. Visually impaired students started their education in normal schools in the mid60s. This was an inclusive education because visually impaired students learnt in the classrooms with the sighted students. There were 357 students in normal schools in 1977 and there were 2,846 students with low vision. Those students who learnt from these schools are in various jobs suchteachers, lawyers, computer activists, company workers and salesmen. There are 211 graduates amongst them.
The Salamancar Convention which was signed in 1994 says the nearest school to the home is the best place for disabled children to receive their education. Various programmes are being implemented by Sri Lanka as a member state of this convention to achieve its objectives. We must examine whether the quality education for the visually impaired is satisfactory. We have to look into various aspects of this problem. Have the visually impaired children the opportunity to enter schools without any discrimination? Is there provision for education for all visually impaired children? Have the visually impaired children equal educational opportunities?
The special schools are ready to admit visually impaired students up to GCE (Ordinary Level) examination. But they have to attend normal schools for their secondary education. But some normal schools are not prepared to admit visually impaired students to their Advanced Level classes. So it is difficult to say that visually impaired students have the opportunity to attend schools without any discrimination.
Is there provision for education for all visually impaired students? As there are only 15 special schools for the whole Island, there is a geographical barrier for visually impaired students. The problem concerning equal educational opportunities could be discussed in Various aspects. They visually impaired students have no barriers to admit to normal primary schools. It is difficult to afford necessary facilities. As a special educational teacher has to work in several schools, he is unable to give enough attention to one small child. The class room teacher who has about 40n students in one class has limited time to give the special attention on visually impaired student. These teachers have no sufficient knowledge about the use of Braille for blind students. The supply of educational and technical – equipment for these students is also not at satisfactory level. Regarding the education of the primary school students, this is not at all a good situation.
The new text books are issued once every 8 years. The Government Braille Press fails to supply books on time. The educational bureaucrats are responsible for this failure. As the problem has got aggravated the problem is before the Courts. Additional reading books are not available to the required extent. The Number of Braille libraries are lower than the fingers on one’s hand. It means that the opportunities for widening knowledge are limited.
Visually impaired students concerning Science, Mathematics, Map Studies and diagrams. Visually impaired students receive a Mathematics paper at the GCE (Ordinary level) examination consisting selected parts of the Mathematics syllabus. How can one say that this is an equal opportunity? Visually impaired students sit for the GCE (Advanced Level) examination only from the Arts stream. They have no opportunity to sit from the Commerce or Science Stream.
There are sports meets and sports facilities which are adopted to visually impaired children in special schools where there are large number of students. In the normal schools there are no sports facilities for visually impaired students.
Every special School has hostel facilities. This deprives these students of living with parents and other family members.
What should the country do to give a quality education for the visually impaired students reducing the above difficulties? There should be opportunities to visually impaired students to enter schools of their choice. The Principals must be aware about this. Educational Officers must come forward to give schools of their choice to these students. Government must arrange for the normal schools to allow visually handicapped students to complete their primary education successfully.
Technical Committees must be established to find ways and means to facilitate the visually impaired students in the subjects such as Science, Mathematics studies and various diagrams.
When the Government distributes free school books, necessary steps should be taken to issue Braille Text books also. If there is good co-ordination amongst relevant institutions, it would be an easy task.
The Government must assist to start and continue Braille and audio libraries to visually impaired organizations. It would improve the knowledge and additional reading amongst visually impaired students. It is essential to give the knowledge about how to use a computer to visually impaired students from early childhood. Government must accept the challenge to provide a computer for every visually impaired student.
Though there is the opportunity to attend Grade V Scholarship examination for visually impaired children, it is difficult to show good results because of inability to read diagrams. The problem of diagrams is overcome, if financial assistance is introduced to visually handicapped children who come to minimum level of achievement.
David Hartman is the first blind doctor in the world. Though this appears to be a miracle to our country, it is the responsibility of our Government to take necessary steps forVisually handicapped students to follow their high education in Commerce and Science.
Special schools must be opened to sighted students. The students should be motivated to come to school from home. Though the visually impaired students study in normal or special schools, government should take every action to enable them to live independently.
The allocation of more and more financial support for education is an investment. Taking necessary steps by the Government for the development of quality education of the visually impaired student that would be beneficial for them. The country should be impressed upon to do these not tomorrow but today itself.