Improving learning outcomes for visually impaired students

Thaciana is a visually impaired teacher at HVP Gatagara Special needs school in Rwamagana District, Eastern Rwanda who teaches Mathematics to P2 learners. The school primarily supports visually impaired students from across the country as well as those with other disabilities.

Teacher Thaciana is well known in her area as the teacher who introduced locally made learning materials in braille that support visually impaired students. Braille is a system of raised dots that can be read with the fingers by people who are visually impaired or who have low vision.

When BLF was introduced at HVP Gatagara special school, teacher Thaciana took part in the Community of practice meetings and requested her colleagues to help her create materials that would support her mathematics learners.

Teacher Thaciana said that before she got the BLF toolkits she did not know how to make her own learning materials. After acquiring the skills and constant mentoring and support from BLF’s sector learning facilitator she was able to create them.
“I attended Communities of Practice where my fellow teachers read and discussed what they learnt during self-study.

As a visually impaired person, I couldn’t read such kind of text but I appreciated the BLF inclusive approach of of praising and encouraging all children in class. My colleagues helped me to collect locally available materials which I designed into inclusive teaching aids for my blind pupils" said Thaciana.

“Pupils used to ask me questions like is a cow the same size as a cat ?" “Does a square look like a fork or a plate ? But I couldn’t give them convincing answers until I started creating these materials for them to touch and feel the difference".Thaciana says.

As a result of the use of the BLF toolkit, HVP Gatagara teachers of English and Mathematics at lower primary say they are confident enough to deliver lessons to their learners who need special education. "Parents and pupils were reluctant to join this school but now classes seem very interesting and students enjoy their lessons more than they used because the teaching approach is very good. We applaud BLF staff who always provide on the school mentoring to see how our teachers are doing." said Placide the Director of Studies of HVP Gatagara school.

BLF District teaching Advisor has been providing coaching and mentorship to teacher Thaciana through classroom observations and one on one discussions on where he thinks she needs improvement. BLF staff have also encouraged her fellow teachers to assist her to make similar teaching materials to assist their learners with disability.

“BLF has a strong partnership with the District Education Unit led by the District Director of Education. They are very friendly and are always happy when we provide feedback on how we can all together improve learning outcomes for learners in Rwamagana District. We have partnership meetings regularly where we assess what we need to do better as a team” said BLF DTA Matron Nyoni.