Schools include students with visual impairment
“It is important for visually impaired and normal children to learn together in the same environment, working together and getting to know each other.”
At 11 years old, Mafoune Dembele is a bright and confident sixth grader in Bamako, Mali. Because she suffers from a visual impairment, she used to stay late at school to finish her work because she was slow in writing, much slower than the other students.
For most of the children in Mafoune’s situation, the local school represents their only chance of receiving any education.
“We didn’t know that she had any low vision issues,” explains Amadou Dembele, Mafoune’s father. “One day, she came accompanied by her teacher, Mrs. Keita Kadiatou Doumbia, who detected the issue. Ever since it has been a good collaboration with Mrs. Keita.”
Mafoune is one of 252 children with low vision supported by a USAID project called Inclusive Education for Visually Impaired Primary School Children in Mali. The project, implemented by Sightsavers, aims to support the enrollment and retention of blind children and children with low vision in primary education in four regions of Mali—Segou, Koulikoro, Gao and the capital, Bamako.
“Through that project, children receive glasses and a reading stand," says Doumbia. “I write in large print and take into consideration the position where they are sitting in the classroom.”