Joy and sorrow over took the campus of the School for the Blind in Mango Town, Virginia, outside Monrovia on Friday, June 13, when the school hosted its 18th graduation ceremony.
The ceremony which was attended by several individuals including officials from the Ministry of Education (MOE) saw eight of the visually impaired students graduating from the 6th grade to the next class. Among the graduates were five males and three females—some of whom walked out with honours for their academic ‘excellent performance.’
Those who did not form part of the graduation ceremony were also promoted to the next classes. Among them too, were students who were given double promotion.
During the exercise, some of the parents and well-wishers shed tears of joy, while others visibly wept as they could not withstand the atmosphere where the students that could not see, but read from the Braille and pronounced distinctly.
The graduates have ‘satisfactorily completed the course of study in Braille reading and writing as prescribed by authorities at the MOE.
Earlier, the keynote speaker, a consultant to the Minister of Education, Olivia Shannon urged the graduates not to stop at the 6th grade, but to continue their academic pursuit.
She, however, assured the Administration that she would engage the MOE authorities to ensure that the school become viable to the extent where the students and instructors will have access to at least a van.
But the question that remains is since there are on other school for the blind except apart from the only blind primary school in the country, where will the graduates enrol during the next academy to facilitate or continue their learning when institutions in the country lacked basics Braille information.
However, the principal, Mr. Jackson M. Suah, has in that regard, called on the government to improve the blind students’ welfare, and also develop the standards of the school or any institutions of higher learning in the country to include materials containing the Braille lessons.
“We intend to enrol more students who are sometimes roaming the students, but before doing so, we need partnership that would solve our many challenges including the lack of transport service to convey the visually impaired students and their instructors,” Mr. Suah, a blind himself lamented.
According to him, the blind intend to get off the streets and become workable, but would need the support from the government to improve their welfare and advance their academic capacities.
He also appealed to the parents and the society at large to accept the blind students by seeking for their wellbeing where they would become professionals in any career they might want to pursue.
The School for the Blind operates under the motto: “With our Seeing Hands, We Shall Overcome.”
Early this year, the school celebrated its 37th anniversary with activities including the holding of a lecture series focusing on HIV/AIDS and preventable diseases— specifically those found in the tropics that have more likely affected the students in their eyes.
The School was established on February 26, 1977 through collaboration between the ministries of Health and Social Welfare and Education. But to present, it lacks basic equipment, such as teaching aides for the instructors, support staff, and students.
Meanwhile, Mr. Suah has commended institutions like the American-based Links Incorporated, the International Finance Corporation, which is a subsidiary of the World Bank, the National Oil Company of Liberia, and Super Petroleum for their continued support to the institution.
In a remark, the chairman for the parents-teachers-students association, Charles W. Konnah urged the parents to visit the campus of the school at least during the weekends to assure their visually impaired child or children that being blind does not alienate one from the family, “because the condition of blindness was bought or willingly acquired by the affected person or persons.”