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School for the blind in Kenema, Sierra Leone needs help

School for the blind in Kenema, Sierra Leone needs help

The only school for the blind in the city of Kenema and its environs needs help.  Speaking to this medium the program coordinator of Vocational Training Center for the Blind, Hanafi Sowa, said that the vocational training center for the blind was formally named before the war as Farm Craft Center and was established to educate blind male adults in craft work up to the war.  He said after the war he came in to take the lead in providing education for the blind which came out of the pressure from the blind and the community people that they needed the school.

Hanafi Sowa went on to say on 17th January 2007 he came in with 60 blind learners ranging from school children between 6-12 years of age and youths and adults with the objective of helping the blind and the visual community achieving independent and social inclusion.  Adding that at present the school has a boarding home of 72 learners and the school activities have divided into two formal sectors.   The blind school is being supported by Helen Keller International and the skill enhancement training program in the following skill areas: craft work, soap making, cloth weaving, including a Braila illiteracy program that is being supported by the Network Movement For Justice And Development (NMJD) Kenema office.

He said under his administration he has succeeded integrating blind children into junior secondary school and five groups of youth and adult learners have been graduated with startup kits; infrastructure development through partnership; an equipped library with a core text books for junior and senior secondary school for the blind; hygiene water and sanitation; teaching and learning materials such as adaptive technology for formal education and materials for skill training program inclusion.

Hanafi Sowa reiterated that with these successes his challenges are ranging from the salary of teachers, feeding for the boarding home, medical facilities and transportation and that frantic effort has so far been made for the government’s approval from the ministry of Education, Science and Technology for the school which they feel is the only way out to address the numerous challenges which the school faces as it is the only special needs school in Kenema, but to no avail. He said although the school is wildly recognize by philanthropic partners they are still soliciting the support from the government by taken ownership of the activities of the school through paying teachers salary and subvention in support of education with people with disabilities; concluding that the special needs teacher has started downing their tools because of salaries and Sowa calls on the government and other partners to come to their aid.

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