Viet Nam News Agency, Vietnam.
Thursday, May 11, 2006.
HCM CITY - HCM City's Nguyen Dinh Chieu School for Disabled Children has been making the dreams of visually-impaired children come true for the past 30 years.
Located at 184 Nguyen Chi Thanh Street in District 4, the school has been preparing disabled children to contribute actively in society since it was established on February 24, 1976. The teachers are dedicated to imparting important knowledge and skills, and make it a point to adapt suitable teaching methods to each individual student.
In February 1976, the school opened its doors to its first 17 pupils. In addition to lessons, teachers travelled regularly to remote areas to persuade families to send their children to school.
At that time, teachers had the challenge of finding suitable materials and the proper methods to reach their disabled pupils.
The second hurdle came when children finished the special primary education programme and had nowhere to advance to.
To resolve that problem, in 1988 Nguyen Dinh Chieu began to set out plans for a secondary education programme for visually-impaired children.
Since 1992, the programme to provide integrated education for visually-impaired pupils in secondary schools has been carried out nation-wide.
Under the programme, visually-impaired children are placed in classes with seeing pupils. Based on the programme's positive results, the school has begun to apply integrated education on an even higher level.
Today, there are more than 1,000 visually-impaired pupils studying in 30 schools from kindergarten to university level.
To encourage their students' scholastic success, the school's teachers have made it their mission to give visually-impaired children a leg up in life. They travel to other schools to guide teachers on how best to help their visually-impaired pupils, and offer assistance with creating Braille-based exams.
In addition to its educational programmes, the Nguyen Dinh Chieu School for Disabled Children also carries out a number of other social activities. Instructors teach massage, software development and transcribe texts into Braille.
The integrated education approach for visually-impaired children has proven that the blind can lead a normal and productive life, provided they are given access to employment.
"Even after finishing a course at the school, it's still difficult for the visually-impaired to study further or find a job," said Nguyen Thanh Tam, principal of Nguyen Dinh Chieu.
Despite the progress made in the social and education sector, the domestic job market still discriminates against the visually-impaired and disabled.
"The current working environment doesn't have a place for the visually-impaired," commented a former student.
Though some firms may hire the blind, it's often as part of a quota or to promote its own 'Charity' policy.
"Don't look at the visually-impaired as being useless. Let them live and work according to their real abilities," Tam added.
"Fifty per cent of students graduating from university have good jobs. That signifies there is a good future out there for the visually-impaired," added Ha Van, Nguyen Dinh Chieu vice principal. - VNS
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