The Proprietor and Principal of the Education Centre for the Blind and Visually Impaired Thomas Alieu has called on the Government of Sierra Leone and other stakeholders to ensure they have a Braille version of civic education materials and other national documents.
“My cry has been for us to have these civic materials in braille,” he said.
Alieu explained that civic education is geared towards ensuring that students love their nation and become patriotic citizens, adding that it is a national issue that makes it important that blind students get theirs.
“There is a need to ensure that whatever national document they have, they should put them into braille. If the government is saying they want inclusive education, nobody should be left behind,” the Principal said.
He added that if the Ministry of Education says they want quality education for all, the blind and deaf should not be left behind.
Alieu noted that he believes all laws enacted in parliament should be embossed, citing that the country may one day have a blind parliamentarian that will be expected to perform effectively.
The Proprietor said he had visited the National Commission for Civic Education and Democracy (NaCCED), but said they haven’t had a positive outcome.
He explained that the blind and hearing impaired face challenges in learning, stating that their way of learning is very difficult to undertake and is also expensive.
Recalling the challenges he faced during his time in college, Alieu explained that after he had studied for his first degree in History and Political Science at Fourah Bay College, he wanted to be the country’s first blind lawyer and had started to pursue a law degree but could not continue due to unavailability of braille materials for the visually impaired.
The Principal added that he was able to study law to honors one, but was forced to drop out due to the constraints he faced.
“Unfortunately my dream was not realized because the libraries of the universities were not equipped to handle my case as a blind law student. We never had braille books in the library,” he said.
Other visually impaired persons have in the recent past advocated for braille documents; amongst them Mohamed Samuel Fullah from the Christian Union for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CUBVI) who called on the country’s parliament to consider the blind by producing a braille version of all national documents.
He added that they can boast of being citizens if they are conversant with current national issues by easily reading informative documents through the system for people who are blind.