Strengthening Vocational and Technical Training for Visually Impaired Persons
The Rwanda Union of the Blind (RUB) has appealed to Government, Civil Society Organizations and individuals to help Persons with Visual Impairment to learn technical and professional courses so that they can contribute to their development and that of the country as a whole.
Recently, the Executive Director of the Rwanda Union of the Blind, Dr. Kanimba Donatille, says that if persons with disabilities are isolated in technical education, they would be left aside while those who have been able to go to vocational schools show confidence in improving themselves.
An example is Mr. Niyotwizera Olivier who has studied how to weave different clothes. He became blind at the age of six, and had been receiving treatment for 15 years, but the blindness remained permanently.
Mr. Niyotwizera says that his blindness caused him to drop out of school when he was in P5.
He says, “Staying at home without going to school causes depression,”
“But now I have the confidence to start a sewing career.” He added.
According to RUB, it is necessary to provide training for Blind people to help them reintegrate themselves into the society.
With assistance from the Swedish Handicap International Aid, now called MYRIGHT, in the year 2000 RUB established a centre for rehabilitation training located at Masaka sector, Kicukiro District in Kigali city.
The center is called MASAKA Resource Centre for the Blind (MRCB).
Blind people are admitted at the centre from all over the country and they receive various forms of training for a period of six months, free of charge.
The MRCB is the only centre in the country providing rehabilitation training for adults’ blind people.
It provides training in Orientation and Mobility, Activities of Daily living, Braille Literacy, Farming or Agriculture and Animal Husbandry.
With these skills, a blind person can comfortably join mainstream society in a rural setting.
However, despite the studies being provided free of charge, graduates from the center need other support including the seed capital to start small projects that can benefit them and their families.
Experts should also look at sustainable ways to bring about changes in vocational education for people with visual impairments because the training they receive is usually short-term compared to the knowledge they should have in order to be able to make a living.
The fact that the education of the visually impaired is considered a special category shows that there is a need for a special effort from the cooperation of the government, donors and non-governmental organizations.