A 25-year-old blind student, James Yelsong, was among the only three candidates who graduated with first class in Diploma in Basic Education (DBE) from Nusrat Jahan Ahmadiyya (NJA) College of Education last Saturday.
He was presented with a special award during the teacher training college’s fourth congregation in Wa, where about 359 students passed out in various academic fields covering technical, education, science, mathematics, languages and social studies.
Mr Yelsong told the Ghana News Agency on the sidelines of the ceremony that, he was “motivated and inspired” by his “bad background” and with his parents being poor yam farmers.
“Actually, we are twins and my twin brother is also visually-impaired, so I was determined and resilient to make a success story,” he added: “I dreamed and actually wanted to achieve that dream and that is the story today”.
He also said fortitude, persistence and discipline, as well as support and patience of his teachers, helped crowned his success.
Mr Yelsong agreed with the suggestion that educating the visually-impaired was very difficult in terms of resource mobilization, saying: “In the first place we do not have textbooks in braille what we do is to depend wholly on the teachers”.
“I have assistive devices, that is, a computer with a special programme that talks and reads everything in the computer,” he said.
However, many of his colleagues have no access to such facilities to facilitate their academic work and yet would have to compete with their able sighted counterparts in the college’s pass out examination.
College authorities have been making efforts to improve learning conditions of blind teacher trainees and as a result, intake of visually-impaired trainees was increased from 12 students in 2017 to 33 students in 2018.
The College also refurbished a learning centre with five Perkins Braille machines, six well-tailored desktop computers to support learning of blind students.
Hajia Asma-U Ismail, the Principal of NJA College of Education, said growing infrastructural deficit was hampering smooth academic studies as three major projects in the school have been stalled.
Construction works for an auditorium, a lecture hall complex and a student hostel complex initiated by the Ghana Education Trust Fund, have been held up for several months due to non-payment of contractors.
The Principal appealed to government to intervene in order to mitigate the situation for smooth academic work to go on.
“Our situation as a college in terms of infrastructure is not anything palatable. We have three major projects which have been stalled,” she said during the graduation.
Other challenges facing the College include lack of a technical workshop, broken fence wall, insufficient residential accommodation for tutors and lecture hall furniture. The campus streets are also unfriendly for blind students.