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Call for Braille to be taught to low-vision students

News day / Suratt said while he endorses the Penmanship Project recently launched to help students develop their handwriting skills, the introduction of Braille will help low-vision students who may eventually go blind.

“Children who attend government primary schools with low vision should be encouraged to use Braille because there is a possibility that the child may go blind. It is important for that child to develop that skill. [In] the event that you lose your sight completely, you won’t be scrambling to learn something new.” He said visually impaired children need the Braille component to help them do maths and English, and to function in the classroom, rather than depending on audio from the computer.

Suratt said just as students are being encouraged to use penmanship to develop their handwriting skills, especially to help them in their exams, emphasis must also be placed on visually impaired students at government primary schools. When contacted, Education Minister Anthony Garcia said the ministry’s Student Support Services Department was looking at the possibilities of introducing the teaching of Braille so visually impaired students in primary schools had an opportunity to move forward.

“Yes, it is an excellent idea, and it is something we are going to look at. The objective of this government is to encourage every child to have an opportunity of accessing education.

The first step is access – every child should have the opportunity of accessing education – and the other step is inclusion.

No one must be left behind. Regardless whether you suffer from any disability, we want to ensure that things are put in place for students to access the education the ministry has to offer.” Garcia said with the continuation of the penmanship programme, students who write in cursive make it much easier for the markers to read and understand.

“Penmanship is going to be a requirement of all teachers in the primary schools to teach. The practice was not carried out as much as it should have been.

However, a number of schools still continue with the practice.” He said the ministry had to make sure there was a balance, because the younger generation was now in the digital age where they use computers and smartphones.

“People are accustomed to texting using letters on these digital devices and, if we are not careful, we are going to lose a very important skill and a very important area of communication.

“We are not throwing out the digital aspect of it. We are insisting that handwriting must be looked upon and it must be regarded as something of extreme importance to the education of a child.”

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