The campaign was launched in September 2009 after needs assessment was conducted. National Task Force comprising of the Director of Education, four Provincial Directors for Nampula, Manica, Sofala and Maputo, Sight Savers International, Light for the World, POWER International and ACAMO (National Association of the Blind) among other stakeholders put in place. The meetings of the task force are chaired by the Deputy Minister for Education and the most recently held one (February) was chaired by Dr. Agusto John. An educational assessment tool has been developed and piloting is ongoing with the aim of identifying and appropriately placing children with visual impairment in school. The current enrolment is 136 and according to the MOE this is less than one percent of potential VI children who should be in school. The national plan has other strategies such as school and community sensitizations and teacher preparation curriculum review. With the assessment tool developed, the link
between the Ministry of Health and that of Education will be strengthened for purposes of clinical assessment and educational placement
A National Task Force was constituted after the launch of the campaign in July 2009. It comprises of the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, CBM, Light for the World, CBR Network Ethiopia, National Association of the Blind and Ethiopia Federation of Persons with Disabilities. The enrolment of visually impaired learners is slightly over 5000, representing only 2% of the total number of children with visual impairment who should be in school. A national plan has been developed in line with the special needs education strategy of the Ministry of Education. The Government of Finland has provided financial support to the Department for Special Needs to roll out the following activities which the EFA VI campaign anchors on.
- Organizing an awareness raising campaign.
- Providing pre- and in-service training on inclusive education.
- Preparing guidelines on inclusive education and individualised educational plan.
- Preparing educational assessment tools for early identification of learning difficulties.
- Transforming special schools to resource centres and supporting cluster schools to act as resource centres.
- Building networks.
- Organizing study tours and funding research, publications and small scale projects.
Preparatory work to have Burkina Faso as a focus country has been undertaken with the support of the President of the French Blind Union (Francoise Madray-Lesigne). Data on prevalence of visual impairment and out of school children is not known and this will be prioritized for purposes of planning for the campaign. High level discussions have been held as follows.
- Madame Pascaline Tamini (Minister of Social Action and National Solidarity) supported the campaign and promised her personal involvement. She further proposed a preliminary meeting in October 2010 with all members of the National Task Force who will then present an evaluation of the actual situation regarding the education of visually impaired children. This will eventually lead to the preparation of a national plan for intervention. The campaign activities should then begin by February 2011.
- Mr. Joseph Pare (Minister of Secondary and Higher Education and Scientific Research) welcomed the goal of having 1000 visually impaired children provided with formal education over the next three years. The Ministry will embrace the campaign activities by liaising with other stakeholders accordingly.
- Madame Marie-Odile Bonkoungou (Minister of Basic Education and Literacy) asked the team to present a business plan to the attention of the three Ministers in charge of education services stressing the involvement of government in the campaign
- Further discussions were held with the local Jesuit community, Braille Library team, Handicap International, UNICEF, Light for the World, French Development Agency and the Catholic Education Committee.
Work in non focus countries
Swaziland and Niger
An inclusive education project funded by the Canadian government (CIDA) through the World Braille Foundation and implemented jointly by the African Union of the Blind and ICEVI has witnessed an increase in the enrolment of visually impaired learners in the two countries. Niger has enrolled twenty while Swaziland has enrolled five. This two year project that commenced in July 2009 aims to enrol at least 80 children in both countries. ICEVI led a team of experts who developed and piloted an in-service course training curriculum for special needs teachers. Similarly, a training curriculum for teaching assistants has been developed and piloted. This cadre of staff will support the children in the inclusive schools implementing the project. This model of teaching assistants is new in the region and the Government of Swaziland has shown willingness to embrace it into its system by employing the staff at the end of the project cycle.
Access to teaching of mathematics at post primary school level and skill gaps among the teachers has been cited as the greatest challenge learners with visual impairments in Tanzania face. Exemption is not an ideal option. Candidates taking the 'ordinary level exam' are automatically locked out of the first and second division grades (the top grades) because they do not take mathematics which is a requirement. This situation is beyond the visually impaired learner since it is the government that has not put in place an adapted mathematics curriculum at the secondary school level.
A meeting with the Ministry of Education officials and other stakeholders in Tanzania (5-6 Feb 2010) had consensus that ICEVI should organise a brainstorming workshop on this. Plans are underway to have this held.
- In Mozambique, the campaign has linked up well with the eye care services supported by Sight Savers International. Cases of visual impairments identified can now be forwarded to the National Task Force for educational intervention. Light for the World has conducted awareness campaigns as well as capacity building workshops for teachers in Sofala province who are useful in identifying children with visual impairment.
- CBM has supported the campaign in Ethiopia and Niger which is implementing an inclusive education project funded by the Canadian government.
- The campaign links up with World Blind Union networks through the African Union of the Blind. They are represented in the National Task Forces and have continued to provide leadership on advocacy as well as direct services to the visually impaired.
- The campaign has linked up with the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) through its coalitions in the region and the Regional Coordinator sits in the Thematic Group for Disability and Special Needs Education. The Regional Chairperson (Wilfred Maina) presented a paper at an EFA conference held in Nairobi in 2009
- 5. The Centre for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education in Africa (CEMASTEA) with its headquarters in Nairobi and financed by the Japanese International Corporation Agency (JICA) will give in-services training to the teachers of mathematics and sciences in 33 African countries. After the survey of the mathematics teachers in mainstream secondary schools in Kenya, this centre in conjunction with the Ministry of Education and other partners, will conduct in-service training to the teachers before the end of 2010.
Other key strategies for the Africa region
The key priority areas for the region in regard to the campaign include but not limited to:
Teaching of Mathematics
ICEVI led a group of partners (Sight Savers International, MOE and Kenya Society for the Blind) that conducted a survey on the teaching of mathematics to visually impaired students enrolled in mainstream secondary schools at the beginning of 2010. A total of 42 mathematics teachers were sampled and feedback from 34 was analysed.
|Over 10 years
|Experience teaching VI learners
|Basic skills in Braille/LV
From the above results, it can be concluded that teachers of mathematics in mainstream secondary schools in Kenya do not have the basic skills to teach visually impaired learners. These results have been discussed with the MOE which is working out modalities of in-servicing the teachers. Other factors for low performance in mathematics are being addressed as well. Related studies are necessary in other countries and evidence used to plan in-service training.
Teacher preparation/Curriculum and pedagogy
The sample curriculum developed by ICEVI has been used to develop/revise in- service curriculum materials and actual Training of Trainers and classroom teachers in Swaziland (4), Kenya (156), and Niger (4). The component of low vision is now given serious attention in the trainings.
Capacity building of teachers and other professionals
An assessment tool has been developed in Mozambique and piloting is ongoing with the aim of identifying and appropriately placing learners with visual impairment in schools. The itinerant teacher/ resource centre teacher model is being developed in Ethiopia in partnership with the Ministry of Education and the Government of Finland among other partners. Through this initiative teachers will gain additional skills in supporting learners with visual impairment while increasing access to education through inclusion.
- A planning meeting organized by the Institutional Development Programme (IDP) will be held in Ghana, and the date to be confirmed. This will plan the 5th IPD Africa Forum scheduled in 2011.
- A stakeholders' meeting will be held in Tanzania to deliberate on the teaching of mathematics.
- A stakeholders' forum will be formed to deliberate on resource mobilization to support special needs education in Kenya.
- A Training of Trainers workshop on Low Vision will be organised in Kenya