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JBE -Jimma - Blind Education

Posted by Bert Michels on Jul 01 2012

Education for Blind Children

(Project Officer: Sandi Petersen)
Relief and Development    

This project which started in 2010 is providing education for children with vision impairment in Jimma. There are no educational facilities for blind children in the region.

Many schools in Ethiopia are very basic with 60-100 students in each class, and often no books or facilities, so for a blind child to learn in this environment is almost impossible. Ever since I became aware of the challenges blind children face in Ethiopia through some of the children in our sponsorship projects, I have hoped to somehow help them get to school.

Many blind children sit in their huts, invisible and isolated, with little to look forward to in their day or in their future. It doesn’t need to be this way! With an education, these children can participate in life like their peers, enjoy daily interaction with others, and be employed as adults!

 Dr Girum, an ophthalmologist in Jimma Hospital/University, shared my hope for provision of education for sight impaired children. He has worked tirelessly since we met, discussing the possibilities with government and educational groups, as well as organisations specialised with vision impairment.

 Thanks to his efforts, this project started late in 2010, with the Hermat Elementary School providing us with a room and staff for our pilot project. The school director has been enthusiastic and welcoming of the project. In November training was provided to a number of the school staff and a mother from Bonga to enable her to start supporting two blind children there. The project provides specialised materials for vision impaired learning (such as Braille, slates, stylus and canes). The children have their own special class so they get the support they need to learn, and in later grades they will join the normal classes.

 We hope to see this project spread so that blind children in Bonga and the smaller villages can go to school in their own village in the future.

Some wonderful people and organisations have been assisting us in various ways, with advice and/or support toward this project becoming a reality. Their willingness to share their knowledge and guide us is greatly appreciated. These include:

  • Jimma University, Ethiopia
  • The Royal Society for the Blind, Adelaide Australia
  • Adaptive Technology Center for the Blind, Ethiopia
  • International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment, Africa
  • Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children, Australia
  • School of Education, Flinders University, Australia

Last changed: Jul 16 2013 at 2:14 AM

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