HUYE— For the first time in the history of the National University of Rwanda (NUR), blind students have been admitted.
Léonidas Ndayisaba, 27, has been jobless since 2002, when he completed his secondary studies at Groupe Scolaire de Gahini. But last Saturday, he couldn’t believe he was at NUR.
“This is incredible, I can’t believe it,” he said laughing in amusement, from his newly-acquired room.
“I am very happy because we are now moving to another level where we will be respected. Someone who has attained university education is by far different from those who didn’t.”
Ndayisaba got 2.4 points in literature in his ‘A’ level national examinations in 2002. He is now enrolled in the School of Journalism and Communication, but says he will not wait for enabling machines to attend classes.
“I have always wished to be a journalist. I am impressed whenever I listen to different programmes they produce like news, football…I love it,” he said.
Ndayisaba, and other three blind students arrived at campus last Saturday. Seven students in total have been admitted, according to the university Director of Academics, Dr. Aloys Ruzibiza.
According to Ruzubiza, the university has removed all barriers that formerly restricted students with impaired vision to be admitted.
“We have implemented our government’s policy of education for all. It’s a challenge we have just overcome. We accept the law passed by our parliament and no any segregation is allowed at NUR,” Dr. Ruzibiza told The New Times on Tuesday.
“They (blind students) are Rwandans just like others, don’t think that they are not bright, they have the potential and capacity to perform. They are even capable of advising other people.”
Currently, infrastructure at NUR has been modified to help mobility for the handicapped students. Some steps at campus were paved straight to help them easily walk. And a resource room whose construction will cost Frw15 million, is under preparation for them.
But they need to wait for the Ministry of Education to buy them their enabling equipments before they start lectures. Some of the materials like braille frames, braille paper, computers, braille displays and cassette recorders were reportedly ordered from the United Kingdom, while other equipments will be secured from South Africa.
They were enrolled in four Faculties: Journalism and Communication, Clinic Psychology, Law, and Social sciences. As they wait to start school, they are undergoing orientation.
Théodette Abayisenga is a fourth year student and vice president of the association of handicapped students at the university –Ahur. She welcomed her new association members and lauded government decision to enable them access the university.
“We are very happy to receive them,” she said. “The students here should integrate with them.”
Isae Nsabimana, another Ahur member, said that lecturers should be briefed on how to treat students with impaired vision.
He suggested that the university should buy them a car, saying it will be hard for them to attend lectures outside campus, as it involves crossing the road outside the campus.
Reading his letters, Ndayisaba appealed to the university to speed up any process that will help them start lectures without delay.
“We didn’t come here to sit,” he said as he read the names of different faculties at NUR. The university is the second public institution of higher learning to admit students with impaired vision this year, after Kigali Institute of Education.