Tajikistan receives 4.5 tonnes of Braille paper to support education of children and young adults with blindness

WHO

Four and a half tonnes of Braille paper, worth US$ 180 000, safely arrived in Tajikistan thanks to the financial support of the Italian Society for the Blind.

The Braille paper was handed over in a ceremony on 19 September 2017. The event included the participation of representatives from the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Association for the Blind of Tajikistan, and schools, colleges and universities involved in the education of children and young adults with blindness.

Over the next 2 years, the Braille paper is expected to provide educational support to over 1000 children and young adults with blindness. It will enable them to learn alongside their peers and thereby achieve their full potential.

During the event, Deputy Minister of Health and Social Protection Dr M. Kamolzoda stated, “Provision of support to vulnerable populations is among the priorities of the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan. The utilization of all available resources and opportunities to address the challenges of people with disabilities will assist the country in the successful implementation of the National Programme on Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities in Tajikistan (2017–2020). For me, this event is a testimony to how effective collaboration can quickly respond to the needs of the most vulnerable people in the country.”

Ms Holiqoka, the mother of a blind child, commented, “As the mother of a blind disabled child, I feel that we are not alone and that you all take care of our children. This paper can help my child to actively participate and learn in school, and not simply go to school.”

During a technical support mission to Tajikistan in July 2016, WHO was made aware of a critical shortage in the special paper used for Braille texts in schools. While Braille writing equipment and updated curriculum content were available, it had been over 10 years since Braille paper supplies had been provided in the regions of Tajikistan. As a result, the Braille texts had been damaged and were no longer usable for the primary, secondary or tertiary education of blind children and young adults.

In collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Protection and the Association for the Blind, WHO conducted a needs assessment and identified a donor and a source for the paper.

Support to education is part of the multisectoral National Programme on Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities in Tajikistan (2017–2020). The Braille paper initiative was developed and implemented through partnerships and collaboration among sectors, and with the participation of civil society.

In providing opportunities for education, the initiative contributes to the objective of Sustainable Development Goal 4: ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Leaving no one behind is central to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.