A young man without sight is struggling to read and write due to lack of learning equipment for people with special needs in Jonglei State.
Johnson Reec is blind, but is determined to learn through formal education just like his peers.
The 21-year-old – who lost his sight at the age of one and a half years – has enrolled at Bor [A] Primary School.
He is in his final year of the primary level.
However, Reec said he cannot even read for exams because of lack of visual aid such as braille.
Braille is a system of raised dots that can be read with the fingers by people who are blind or who have low vision.
Reec told Eye Radio that during examinations, he is forced to rely on unwilling individuals for guidance.
“The most difficult challenge I faced since I started going to school is to find someone to write for me when I sit exams,” he stressed.
Reech desires to enroll in the school for the blind.
But there are fewer schools with services for visually impaired learners.
The existing one – Rajab Basic School in Juba – has been hard-hit by the impacts of coronavirus pandemic.
“We don’t have money for repair…our salaries are always delayed, and these students come to the school in the morning, but there is no breakfast or lunch,” said Eluzia Malish, deputy headteacher.
As an alternative solution, Reec suggested that a radio set would be helpful to enable him to continue learning:
“I am appealing to well-wishers give me a helping hand by providing me with a solar-powered radio.”
According to the UN, of the 285 million visually impaired in the world, an estimated 19 million are children.
Only two percent of the visually impaired are educated.
The headteacher of Rajab Basic School for the Blind, Dominic Wani revealed that the majority of the visually impaired learners in South Sudan are from poor families.
“Most of the children are from poor families; they cannot afford meals and transport from home to school and back,” Wani added
He urged the government and development organizations to support institutions of learning and the learners.
The UN Sustainable Development Goals demands the provision of emotional support to visually impaired youths and empowering them to be confident in their abilities.
Johnson Reech is among more than 15 million children across South Sudan affected by the closure of schools this year.
In response, the Ministry of Education and partners started supporting children and parents with free study guides and lessons broadcast on radio and television.
To listen to such programs, families would require radio sets.
Since the outbreak of conflict in South Sudan in late 2013, Internews South Sudan has distributed radios to facilitate information access and provides background and guidance for distributing radios to displaced populations.
The media development organization said it is working to distribute over 40,000 wind-up solar powered radio sets to communities across the country.
As the country continues to ease COVID-19 restrictions, more schools, including private institutions are expected to reopen.
Reech hopes he can find the radio soon – even when classes resume.
The World Blind Union emphasizes that blind and partially sighted people have the same universal rights and freedoms, including the right to life and full inclusion as equal citizens in society.
It stresses that they have the right to achieve their full economic, social, cultural, civil and political potential without restriction regardless of disability.
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