PRIDE MZARABANI/ METHEMBE SIBANDA
VISUALLY impaired persons in the country have appealed to the government to capacitate school children with eyesight challenges with learning gadgets, including Braille material so that they can also learn during COVID-19 lockdown periods.
The world today celebrated World Braille Day under the theme, Even Under Normal Circumstances, Persons with Disabilities are less likely to access Health care, Education, Employment, and to Participate in the Community.
Specialist for the visually impaired Mapula Ndlovu told NewsDay that the government should increase the education budget allocated to the visually impaired, in order to improve the availability of resources for the visually impaired students at schools.
Ndlovu said most pupils that have eyesight problems at schools are left during online lessons because they cannot use ordinary gadgets, while most of them also come from poor backgrounds.
“Currently the government is not allowing face to face lessons, in which most lessons are carried out online .Most of these kids do not have gadgets, and Braille literature for learning as most of them come from very poor families. This affects them a lot as they will still be required to write exams when they would not have learnt during the lockdown period,” Ndlovu said.
Senator representing people with disabilities, Watson Khupe who is also chairperson of the National Disability Board said learning resources are only allocated to a small section of Zimbabweans.
He urged the government to be inclusive and improve the lives of the visually impaired through supporting them with Braille reading material.
“Everything to do with disabilities, whether about Braille or other resources, is for a few people. In remote areas, pupils find it hard to access lessons as they do not have resources, which proves that infrastructure is in short supply,” Khupe said.
He also urged Zimbabwean companies to employ PWDs, adding that the stipends that they are supposed to receive for self-help projects were also not reaching them.
“Noone wants to beg, everyone has a family to feed. We have government grants, but as it is, they are not reaching many PWDs. The programme now seems to be elitist.”
The Bulawayo Public library also revealed that most Braille publications have not been updated, even after the country’s education curriculum was changed.
The library still uses very old books that are not in line with the new curriculum.