The Saint Lucia Blind Welfare Association (SLBWA) last week provided financial assistance to blind and visually impaired students to assist with their education.
Eleven parents of students attending both primary and secondary schools around the island were presented with cheques, it was reported.
The SLBWA said the presentation of the cheques was make possible thanks to the many donors who have come to the aid of the organisation over the past year.
During the cheque presentation ceremony SLBWA President Glen Simon reminded parents and students of the importance of a good education in transforming lives for the better.
Simon acknowledged that it was the first time that the SLBWA had held such a large cheque presentation for its members in support of their education needs.
“Part of the Blind Welfare’s role and mandate is to ensure that all blind and visually impaired persons are provided education opportunities, are provided job opportunities, create social activities for blind and visually impaired persons as well as advocate on your behalf – advocate for equality, advocate for empowerment, advocate for social services and the like,” he explained.
The SLBWA says only 10 teachers work with over 50 blind and visually impaired students distributed among 30 schools on island plus another 24 students at the Dennery Child Development Centre.
Despite the limited resources the students continue to hold their own when compared to their sighted colleagues, it was noted.
The blind and visually impaired students are fully integrated within the regular school system and are supported by Vision and Education Support Teachers (VEST).
The SLBWA President disclosed that the students, with the support of their teachers, do such a good job that one of the students who wrote this year’s Common Entrance Exams went to the school of their choice, the Castries Comprehensive Secondary School.
“It means that the integration programme is working- the teachers are working. They need more assistance and this year and we are happy to say that this academic year we will be supported even further by the Ministry of Education which has recognized the hard work of SLBWA and moved the support for the national education programme from $20,000 to $100,000,” Simon declared.
Speaking on behalf of parents was Antonius Tixey, currently the sole bread winner for his family.
He is a farmer who is himself totally blind.
Tixey said the parents would use the financial assistance they have received wisely and work hard to ensure that their children succeed.
His daughter topped the Common Entrance Exam at her school, Blanchand Combined in Micoud, with a score of 91.
She will be attending St. Joseph’s Convent in September.