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CBC Blindness Education Fund 2020

With a view to sustainably promote the education of blind students and those with profound visual impairment in Cameroon, the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services is launching the CBC Blindness Education Fund. This fund is intended to provide support for the educational expenses of all children who are blind or have visual impairment, so they can participate more effectively in the Cameroon education system. The scholarship is endowed by a member of the Cameroon Health and Education Fund, with love and thanks to the teachers and blind students in the North West Region

Background

Mactaggart et al (2014) reported that 0.4% of children under 15 years old have visual impairments.  Evidence from SEEPD Program data suggests that less than 78% of visually impaired learners are enrolled in school when compared to 97% for physically impaired learners. 

Tradition

Blind children in Cameroon have traditionally been considered ineducable. Most parents have never seen blind children functioning independently.  If blindness occurs in early childhood, parents have no idea how to teach children how to learn about the world and perform everyday tasks.  Blind children must learn to read and write braille, but Most parents have never seen braille and cannot imagine themselves learning it with their children.  If parents do enroll their blind children in school, the children usually arrive unable to care for themselves or walk alone from place to place.  Given their limited resources and differences in gender roles, Parents are even more reluctant to seek schooling for girls than for boys. 

About the Benefactor

The Benefactor of the CBC Blind Education Fund who asked for anonymity is passionate about schooling for children and young people with severe to profound vision impairments in Cameroon. Her motivation comes from her amazement at seeing how children and young people in Cameroon attend school where they learn and their remarkable teachers teach with very little resources –no Braille and audio books, little or no access to computers and ICT, a not so accessible school curriculum and many more hurdles yet, they sail through and most often perform well at end-of-course examinations. Join this warm-hearted person, to get more children and young people with vision impairments into schools and make their educational experiences worth your every penny!

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 History

In 1981, the CBC Integrated School for the Blind Kumbo (ISFB) began providing a four-year, braille-based education program, with the goal of preparing visually impaired children to enter regular classes on an equal footing with sighted students.  The CBC also sponsors teacher/transcribers to work in regular schools, transcribing exams and other day-to-day materials.   Two decades later, SAJOCAH Rehabilitation Center in Bafut began teaching blind children in a similar program.  Through these schools’ influence, the brightest blind children have succeeded academically and have gone on to be gainfully employed.  Their success has begun to shift social attitudes toward blindness, especially in urban areas.  People exposed to the work of these schools have begun to believe that visually impaired people can be socially included in the life of the community. 

The slow shift toward social inclusion is a crucial first step toward success, but students’ progress toward academic inclusion has been hampered in the following ways: 

Before blind children can learn to read and write, they must have sensorimotor experiences that teach them about the world and help them develop the manual strength and coordination necessary for braille reading and writing.  Teachers in Cameroon receive no formal training in how to help students develop these skills. 

Teachers also have received minimal training in braille.  They read braille by sight themselves and have not known the rapid reading and writing techniques students must use to keep up in classes designed for sighted students.  Most current secondary and university students work far too slowly to keep up, because they have not learned these techniques. 

Almost all braille produced in the Northwest Region has been hand copied.  Very few braille textbooks exist; and since there is no certification program in braille transcription, few people are interested in pursuing this speciality.  Since there are hardly any textbooks, most braille students have only read exams and other short documents.  Their fund of knowledge is much smaller than the knowledge of their sighted peers. Because they read so little, they struggle to write well and take good notes.  

Students have experienced inclusion by total immersion into regular classes.  These classes can have up to 120 students.  Of necessity, concepts are presented visually.  Most regular teachers have no time or expertise to work with blind students.  Special teacher/transcribers are meant to fill in gaps in students’ knowledge, but they have very little direct time with blind students, because they are too busy transcribing, and because the school day does not set aside time for direct interaction with students. 

Blind students need to learn to touch type, so they can communicate with sighted people in print.  They also need mobility training, so they can navigate safely.  In secondary school they need specialised computer access training, which they cannot acquire in regular classes.  The regular school day allows no time to acquire these essential compensatory skills. 

In a sighted learning environment and without effective braille skills, textbooks, or essential compensatory skills, many blind students have been physically present in regular class but academically excluded.  Understandably, many students drop out of secondary school. 

 Advancements in Teacher Training and Student Learning

In 2017 the Integrated School for the Blind changed its name to the Inclusive School and Braille Center (ISBC).  Both this school and SAJOCAH have begun a gradual paradigm shift intended to ensure that the braille training programs and the regular schools work together more effectively to give blind children an environment conducive to learning. 

With this end in mind, the CBC sponsored several courses intended to upgrade the skills of teacher/transcribers in the three rehabilitation schools that work with blind students in this Region–ISBC, SAJOCAH and the Christadelphian School.  The courses were: 

  • Braille reading and writing techniques as practiced by blind people
  • Braille spatial maths
  • Unified English Braille, the new code adopted by most English-speaking countries
  • Touch typing for upper primary students
  • Basic orientation and mobility techniques
  • Introduction to electronic braille production via Duxbury Braille Translation software

We hope these introductory courses can form the basis of later specialized programs in the education of visually impaired students. 

In addition, the Cameroon Health and Education Fund has facilitated donations of badly needed canes and typewriters to the CBC, for use by all blind students in the Region. 

The New Scholarship Fund

With a view to sustainably promote the education of blind students and those with profound visual impairment in Cameroon, the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services is launching the CBC Blindness Education Fund. This fund is intended to provide support for the educational expenses of all children who are blind or have visual impairment, so they can participate more effectively in the Cameroon education system. The scholarship is endowed by a member of the Cameroon Health and Education Fund, with love and thanks to the teachers and blind students in the North West Region.  

Requirements

The CBC Blindness Education Fund 2020 will be administered by the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services (CBCHS) through the setting up of a scholarship selection and award committee.

  • The CBCHS Scholarship Committee shall review applications, select and shortlist candidates based on merit to the CBC Director of Health Services for approval.
  • Equal opportunity will be given to applicants in Cameroon with preference to applicants from poor families.

The CBC Blindness Education Fund 2020, will fund 90% of the total cost of accessing quality education for an academic year while the recipient’s family covers 10%.

  • Scholarships are for the exclusive use of the winner to be applied to tuition, books, fees and other educational expenses.
  • The CBCHS will disburse the scholarship funds to the recipient’s parent/guardian and provide necessary support to facilitate efficient usage.
  • Given its focus on quality education, this scholarship will support education in recognized schools with a track record in providing quality education to blind and children with profound Low vision

Award of scholarships

  • Successful applicants shall be informed of their awards soon after the approval has been made and the list of award winners publicized on the CBCHS website.
  • An award ceremony shall be organized on an appropriate date ahead of the start of the academic year.

Eligibility

To be eligible for the CBC Blindness Education Fund you must:

  • Be a citizen of Cameroon.
  • Be blind or have profound Low vision
  • Complete a one page document to prove that you are poor and in need.
  • Be enrolled in any of the recognized special and or Inclusive schools (GBHS Bamenda, ISBC Kumbo, SAJOCAH Bafut, GBHS Banyo, CBC Inclusive primary school Nkwen, Magba, Koutaba, Bafoussam, Foumbot, Lycee Bafoussam, etc)
  • Not be a recipient of another educational support for learners with disability.

How to apply

  • Application forms can be accessed directly through the CBCHS website: cbchealthservices.org on the Scholarship Application page or gotten in hard copy from the directorate of health services, CBC, Baptist centre, Nkwen.
  • Applications are open throughout the year.
  • Complete applications shall consist of
    • Completed application form.
    • Medical report and picture of applicant
    • Disability card
    • Proof of admission
    • Assessment report of costed educational need completed by a social worker or a CBR worker.
    • Photocopy of parents’ national identity card.

Have a Scholarship in mind?

IF YOU HAVE ANY SCHOLARSHIP, REACH OUT TO THE CAMEROON BAPTIST CONVENTION HEALTH SERVICES