Analysis: CHITALU CHIPILI
QUOTING Albert Einstein’s charges against education system: “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Do you realise how many pupils with visual impairments in Zambia relate to that fish swimming upstream in class never finding their gifts thinking they are stupid? Believing they are useless?
One would clearly see that the policy on education system has a lot of substance to offer to blind individuals, but implementation of these policies leaves a lot to be desired.
One obvious and perfect example of such a policy is on introduction of computer studies in public schools (Ministry of Education, 2013).
As afore cited, computer studies was introduced in 2013 and all learners in public schools begun to learn this subject practically except pupils with visual impairments who have been only learning this subject theoretically.
Teachers in special education, administrators of such institutions and government officials feel they have offered a very good solution and learning to such individuals in the country.
In all fairness and sincerity, where else on earth have you heard and observed information and communications technology (ICT) is taught theoretically without hands on activity? How do you teach and examine individuals with visual impairments in computer studies theoretically, you even say blind pupils also learn computer studies? Is this genuine and quality education really. How then do you interpret the national theme “leaving no one behind”? ‘A’. We don’t need to make robots-zombies. The world has progressed and now we need people who think creatively, innovatively, critically, independently with the ability to connect and demonstrate and never rote learning only.
Since 1977, when the first republican President of Zambia Dr. Kenneth Kaunda gave a directive to the minister of education and labour by then to start employing trained blind individuals as teachers and leaving telephone operating for blind individuals in the country respectively, no one else thinks of blind individuals career development and choice. It seems everyone in the country today is very much comfortable to see blind people in telephone operating and teaching only. None is able to think outside the box and no one is willing to see them pursue other careers apart from telephone operating and teaching in the country.
Many are the times we have spoken and given the guidance pertaining to the way to go in the education of these individuals in the country. Unfortunately, the more we speak and guide, the more we are ignored, sidelined and blind learners left forgotten in every good education programme that come in the country.
It is unfortunate to see blind individuals with predetermined career choice in Zambia only. Yet other countries have advanced and left it upon the blind individuals to choose the way to go.
The cause of predetermined career development in Zambia is as a result of braille as the only medium of communication for blind people. Many other public and private sectors apart from the Ministry of General Education have no individuals who can read and write in braille. Hence, posing a challenge in communicating with blind people. It is this communication problem that has brought career limitations to blind people in our country.
It is uncalled-for braille causing such a huge career problem for our people in the country, yet computer studies has been introduced and is the only liberating power in this 21st century. Teachers, administrators and government officials! What is making you fail to introduce and implement computer studies practically to blind pupils in the country? Is it out of choice that you do not want to introduce and implement computer studies practically to such individuals in the country?
Education should be held with a powerful belief in human free will and the need for individuals to shape their own futures. Every student must be able to control their own education. Learners must be encouraged to understand and appreciate their uniqueness and to assume responsibility for their actions. An education that focuses on the development of the whole person and not just the mind is the education to encourage in this 21st century. The curriculum must be designed to help students to realise their potential. The development of students’ creativity and artistic capabilities is the way to go in this century please.
Country men and women, listen if you can! As long as you do not want to introduce computer studies practically to blind people in the country, their education will never improve in any way and their career choice will forever remain problematic.
The author is a senior lecturer, Mufulira College of Education.
Analysis: CHITALU CHIPILI