Friday, 1 April 2011


A New Chance at Education for the Blind; No More Aided Reading For The Blind And Visually Impaired During WAEC
Agustine Baryo is sitting in a classroom listening to a teacher read test questions and using a type writer to write his answers. The 25 year old, dressed in his school uniform and carrying a walking staff, is blind.
Baryo says this method is not good. “Most of the readers during these exams do not pronounce the words correctly and it makes it hard for the student to understand and give the right answers,” he says.
The 9th grader is among many blind and visually impaired students in the country that are expected to write this year’s West African Examination Council (WAEC) exams.
For many years, blind and visually impaired students have written exams with people reading for them. Now, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is hoping to provide them with Braille, a written language for blind people made up of raised dots.
It allows the students to read and write on their own without someone reading for them.
USAID, in collaboration with the Christian Association of the Blind (CAB), is sending a team of four persons from WAEC and CAB this weekend to Ghana for a one week assessment trip.
Adolphus B. Teah, coordinator of the Liberia Braille Publishing Institute for the Blind (LIBPIB), says the purpose of the visit is to learn WAEC Ghana’s model of administering the West African exams in Braille.
Beyan Kota, President of CAB, says the institution has been involved in advocacy in terms of social inclusion, economic empowerment for the blind and visually impaired persons over the years. “One way to empower blind people is to ensure their social and economic participation in national development. So the bed rock of CAB has been to provide blind people with opportunity by providing education and basic skills,” he added.
The president says WAEC tests are one of the basic factors that enable the blind to get into higher education of learning.
The new method, says Kota “means the blind and visually impaired will write the test in a fair manner.”
Baryo is placed among many students at the school who can see but he excitedly called his blind and visually impaired friends when he heard that the exams will be made available to them in Braille this year. “I called my friends as soon I heard the news that we are going to write and read the WAEC on our own,” he says.
Despite being thankful, Baryo says “they should please help us with more books because we the blind and visually impaired do not have many text books to use. “We are out of equipment so USAID should please help us.”