HUYE – For the 105 children who cannot see, hear, speak or walk, yesterday was a very good day.
Groupe Scolaire de Gatagara on Saturday awarded certificates to mostly physically-handicapped students who completed academic courses this year.
Brother Kizito Misago, director of the school, said that the
ceremony was the first of its kind in the history of the school, and is recognition to those who have succeeded “against all odds.”
“Society has tended to look down on people with physical disabilities but the students you see today are proof that disability is not inability,” said Misago. With a student population of 640, nearly half of which have visual, speech and hearing impairments, it also incorporates students without any disabilities in a bid to promote the education for all.
Yet the celebration is bittersweet.
The school still uses old equipment, and anything new is often too expensive for their thin budget.
“Equipment to cater for special needs education is very expensive.
The school can not handle it alone. We call for the intervention of other stakeholders,” said Misago.
Also speaking at the ceremony, Member of Parliament representing the disabled Innocent Twagirayezu hailed the founders of the school.
“In the past, the disabled have been discriminated against but the situation today is gradually changing for the better,” said Twagirayezu.
“A law that provides for the protection of the disabled in all aspects of life is yet to be passed by parliament. It is our hope that the attitude towards the disabled will gradually change since they are human beings like any other person despite their disabilities.”
Students awarded certificates include those that completed as laboratory assistants and the rest completed training in computer and management at high school level.
Students requested government and other stake holders to consider them for university education as universities in Rwanda have in the past neglected students with special needs.
HVP Gatagara was founded in 1968 by Father Joseph Fraipont Ndagijimana in Nyanza.
It was moved to its present location in 2003 and is now run by the Brothers of Charity.
The school receives support form partners including Handicap
International, Voluntary Service Organisation, Catholic Relief Service and Global Fund.
A school for the blind, a man with a vision