KEETMANSHOOP - The Namibia Federation for the Visually Impaired (NFVI) has expressed concern that there are parents denying their children a chance to be tested to avoid blindness.
NFVI human rights and advocacy officer Teofelus Jeremia expressed this concern in a media statement at Keetmanshoop on Friday, after engaging various stakeholders at the town on how to improve the lives of visually impaired Namibians.
Jeremia said blindness can be avoided if and when there are early detections and interventions during a child’s early life, but that this has been difficult for those responsible for assisting in this regard as the parents or guardians of such children often refuse to give consent in order for their children to be assessed and tested.
“What I have learned with great sadness is that parents do not collaborate with health extension workers, and I should send out a warning to the public that we should collaborate with health extension workers because they carry out programmes that could help prevent blindness at an early age,” he said.
He further stated that blindness can be avoided if those with special skills are given the chance to test children at risk, noting that refusing to give such concern only robs the children of a future where they are able to see.
“Some parents decline for their children be tested and but these problems are not detected with our naked eyes as it needs some sort of specialist, so as to prevent blindness, otherwise we are going to create a future problem for our children if we refuse them proper healthcare,” he said.
He also called on government to work on getting visually impaired school learners into mainstream schools, saying this will not only be in accordance with the education right for every child, but also give each and every learner a fair chance at good results.
He explained that sometimes those sent to special schools perform poorly not because they cannot do better but because such schools are just not good performing schools, and thus visually impaired people should get a fair chance at education.
He added that people must be aware of the inclusive education policy, and therefore when a non-visually impaired person goes to a certain school, a visually impaired person should also be able to go to such a school, saying that special schools, as they have come to be known, are isolating and have high failure rates.
“If a child in Keetmanshoop sees Suiderlig High School as the best, the child without a disability will go there but a child with a disability will be forced to go to a special school, which generally does not perform, so we want all schools or at least a few schools to be able to teach visually impaired persons, so they can have a variety of choice,” he said.
He also revealed that the organisation had very fruitful meetings with various stakeholders at Keetmanshoop with some agreeing to work closely with the federation.