Braille printing press and some computers to the education centre for the blind and the visually impaired.
Unveiling the Braille embosser over the weekend at the education centre for the blind and the visually impaired at 92 Circular Road in Freetown, the minister of education, youth and sports, Dr Minkailu Bah said the event marked a historic landmark in “the education of our brothers and sisters who are blind and visually impaired”.
He added that, “many of our educated blind bothers and sisters especially from the Milton Margai School for the Blind are either teachers or are engaged in rehabilitation programmes involving other blind individuals”.
Dr Bah noted that, “I should also hasten to say that it is the responsibility of the ministry to support all primary schools including those providing education for polio victims, the mentally-challenged and of course the blind and visually impaired by paying their teachers, supplying them with teaching or learning materials as and when they are available and giving them quarterly grants for running those institutions”.
The minister assured them that, “we will continue as a ministry to provide for and support the education of our disadvantaged compatriots to improve their economic status like the supposedly normal.
Dr Bah expressed thanks to representatives of the Force Foundation for their kind gesture which was highly appreciated.
The director, educational centre for the blind and visually impaired, Thomas Alieu said, “over the years this centre has worked diligently to usher in a scholastic revolution in the lives of our blind pupils and students respectively”.
Highlighting some of the difficulties the blind and visually impaired are facing, the director disclosed that the lack of text books into Braille; the absence of computer training facilities for the blind and the non existent of outlined policies for the disabled were their difficulties.
These difficulties, Mr Thomas stated, invariably forced “our blind brothers and sisters to be dropouts in their educational careers and take to the street as beggars in our society”. To address this stigma, Mr Thomas revealed, he championed the cause for establishing this institution with the prime aim of embossing printed books into Braille for blind pupils and students, and to give Braille literacy to blind adults who could not enroll in the five established schools for the blind in this country.
The director maintained that with the assistance of Sight Savers, Force Foundation, International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the ministry of education, youth and sports, the educational centre had now embarked on a more robust means of producing printed text books into Braille for the blind. The programme officer at the Migration for Development in Africa (MIDA), Robyn Mello, said “IOM has been working on programmes with Sierra Leoneans who are living in Netherlands to come home and embark on development programmes”. She averred that IOM was also finding ways for funding to support the education for all, especially for the disabled.