Visually impaired in Kavango shun centre

18 Oct 2013 06:40am
SAUYEMWA, 18 OCT (NAMPA) - Classes for visually impaired students at the only centre for visually impaired persons in the two Kavango regions have not taken place since the beginning of this year due to a lack of students.
The centre for the visually impaired here is known as the Sauyemwa Visually Impaired Centre, and is situated on the western outskirts of Rundu.
It was established in 2008 to afford people living with visual impairment an opportunity to access education, especially how to read and write using Braille.
Centre Manager Immanuel Kangenengene, who is visually impaired himself, told Nampa on Friday that since the centre’s last group of students successfully completed their courses last year, the school has not enrolled any new students this year.
It is widely believed that people with visual impairment do not want to enrol at the centre because they live in remote areas, and are discouraged by the constant lack of transportation to and from school over weekends and during holidays.
Others are skeptical about the availability of accommodation and enough food to sustain them at the centre, and rather stay at home.
Currently, nine people with visual impairment, including three teachers, reside at the centre to look after the facility.
The teachers have been sitting idle since the start of this year with no work to do, and although they are on the government’s payroll, they have not been paid so far this year because they didn’t do any work.
Kangenengene indicated that the centre has 19 places available, and called on constituency councillors and headmen in the two Kavango regions to sensitise their communities to encourage people with visual impairment to register for classes at the centre.
Accommodation is provided free of charge in the centre’s six corrugated iron- room structures, while mattresses, donated by Good Samaritans, are also available for students’ use.
“People want education. The problem is they live far from the centre,” said the manager.
He then appealed to the central government to avail transport for would-be students who live in remote areas to access the centre.
Those residing at the centre survive from grants provided by the government, as well as food donations by local businesspeople and shopping outlets.
Since the school’s establishment in 2008, the centre has produced over 20 graduates who successfully completed Stages One and Two of the course.
These stages include lessons on how to read and write the local languages in Braille, as well as mathematics.
Most graduates are furthering their studies at other centres for visually impaired persons in Windhoek.
To help ease the burden of household chores, the Namibian Red Cross Society (NRCS) this year attached a volunteer at the centre, who assists students with their daily tasks such as cooking meals, washing clothes and cleaning the centre. This assistance will be for a period of two years.
The Sauyemwa Visually Impaired Centre has a hall, but lessons take place under a tree.
The hall was built with assistance from Johan Krail, a businessperson at Rundu.