Higher Education Programme – Update

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Higher Education Programme – Update

The higher education institutes and Universities in all the implementing countries namely Indonesia, Cambodia, Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Mongolia continued to admit students with visual impairment for higher education courses. When the program was started in 2006-07 and subsequently in other countries from 2010 to 2014 the initial resistance was there for visually impaired students and teachers and even parents to send children to higher education courses. This situation has completely changed after nearly a decade. The admission of more students into higher education institutions and also with the demonstration of their skills in various walks of lives including academic areas, employment etc., the societal attitude has changed and the universities are becoming welcoming institutions for inclusion. Therefore, there is a steady growth of enrolment among visually impaired children in higher education institutes in all the seven countries. The total enrolment of Higher Education students helped through The Nippon Foundation supported program stands at 2400 plus and the country-wise details are given below:

ENROLLMENT:

Country 2006 – 2007 2006 – 2011 2006 – 2014 2006 – 2015 2006 – 2016 2006 – 2017 2006 – Dec-2017 Jan – Dec 2018 2006 – 2018
Indonesia 250 385 480 609 631 637 644 16 660
Vietnam 28 354 470 563 630 689 736 21 757
Philippines 32 460 489 671 710 726 732 19 751
Cambodia 4 14 22 52 83 91 91 14 105
Myanmar 0 0 29 54 63 88 88 26 114
Laos 0 0 7 16 19 25 25 8 33
Mongolia 0 0 0 0 0 0 8 6 14
Students Enrolled 314 1213 1497 1965 2142
2256
2324 110 2434

In addition to enrolment, the real outcome of the higher education is the quality of education the students have received, the confidence they have attained, and the skills they have acquired to make them independent. The other highlight of the Higher Education program particularly in the countries like Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia where the program started between 2006 and 2010, is that the visually impaired students are given options to select a wide range of courses such as Accounting, Statistics, Technology, IT, Banking, Education and some are majoring in Computer Science and Mathematics at the higher education level.

EMPLOYMENT:

Since 2015 the projects have been focusing on employment area too because the students who graduated through the Higher Education program were assisted to venture into employment avenues and therefore, the project organised many awareness activities for the general public and employers to instil confidence in them that visually impaired persons could secure employment on the basis of their employability skills. Their employment also developed confidence in parents to send their visually impaired children to schools. Employment generation activities included the organisation of job fairs, orientation of the employers’ interaction with visually impaired Graduates, organising ability EXPOs by mingled persons with visual impairment with non-disabled children etc., to demonstrate their skills. The academic qualifications are important for getting employment in organised sectors but the soft skill development is also very vital area for visually impaired persons to secure successful employment. The skills of interviewing, personal hygiene, skills of communication, skills of working as a team member, leadership qualities, etc., are vital ingredients to attain employment and keeping this in view the project partners organised a number of soft skill development programs. The table below provides details of the employment generated through the projects in 2018 and also of the recent past.

Country 2015 – 2016 2016 – 2017 April – December 2017 January – December 2018 Total Till date
Cambodia 38 36 2 14 90
Indonesia 39 0 0 9 48
Philippines 13 12 11 18 54
Vietnam 27 27 24 13 91
Myanmar 0 0 10 1 11
Mongolia 0 0 0 2 2
Total 117 75 47 57 296

Therefore, the project has so far facilitated employment for 296 persons with visual impairment and the work will continue to assist more in the years to come.

Voice of Students:

Nov Sokneang

Provincial Off ice of Culture and Fine Arts, Cambodia

“Basically, my work is not so difficult. I encountered a few problems but I can always solve them”

“Greetings! My name is NOV Sokneang and I am 24 years old. I am currently working at the Provincial Off ice of Culture and Fine Arts of Kampong Cambodia. I am an administrative and human resources officer. I have been working here for one year. I am satisfied with my work because arts and culture is my favourite working field. Basically, my work is not so difficult. I encountered a few problems but I can always solve them. When I face problems, my senior colleagues, deputy and head of department give me some advice, telling about the problems that they used to have. They share their experience in order to make our work better. For instance, when I submit request forms containing inadequate details, I can ask support from my colleagues in order to be sure that I make the right decision. The main factor that led me to success was the education I received at Krousar Thmey from primary school to high school until I took exam to enter the Provincial Off ice of Culture and Fine Arts in 2015.”

Before, Krousar Thmey supported me, but now I can care about myself, earning my own money. Generally speaking, all employers do not discriminate against people with disabilities. If we have good knowledge, we can work as well as the others [sighted]. Please take the chance to hire disabled people! I would like to send the message to all friends, people with disabilities and persons with low vision.

“Please do not feel hopeless, try to study hard as you have the ability to do it”

Ochirrenchin Chuluundolgor

Mongolia

Ochirrenchin Chuluundolgor was born on 26 February 1998. He became visually impaired because of illness. Although he first went to ordinary school for one year, his sight started deteriorating and therefore transferred to special school for blind children where he received his full secondary education. Now he has joined Journalism at the School of Radio, Television and Media Arts of the University of Culture and Arts.

He says: “Hello I, Ochirrenchin, and my classmates are happy to have been involved in the Student Project that is being implemented this year. The project has been very beneficial for our studies and in many other ways. We are using computers and other items which we were granted through the higher education project in our studies and I am able to study alongside our peer students. We would like to express our sincere thanks to you.”

Misbahun Arifin

Indonesia

His name is Misbahul Arifin, usually called Misbah. He is now studying in the fifth semester of special education in UNS University – in Solo, Center Java. Misbah is a young blind person who had protective parents. On the first day of our pre-employment soft skill training in Surabaya, he was very quiet. If trainers asked him to talk, he just answered with very short sentences and according to the facilitator, he was a serious learner. He showed it during the group discussions, group assignments, as well as individual assignments. Uptill the second day of the training, facilitator needed to encourage him more to talk. Surprisingly, on the third day, he started asking or answering questions, or giving comments. On the last day, especially during communication session, he demonstrated maximum changes, especially in his verbal communication. On self-presentation session, again, he showed his verbal communication capacity which changed during the four day training. Considering the changes he made, the facilitator’s team finally selected Misbah as the best male trainee.

“I was very delightful when I was selected to participate in this training. I never thought before that there was such training for blind persons. It’s surprising to me very much that I am selected as the best male trainee. But I realize that I still need to learn a lot about soft skills. This is only a beginning for me. I really want to be a teacher for blind students, therefore I would develop my communication skill furthermore”, Misbah stated this when he accepted the award during the closing session on the training.

Ma. Bless Adriano

Philippines

Independence and Technology

One of the most common problems experienced by individuals like me who were sighted before is how we will adapt to a new system of writing or reading. We not only have to train our remaining senses with the orientation and mobility, but also learn how to use the slate and stylus. But even if you are able to read and write with the braille system, it was difficult to cope and go along in a classroom filled with sighted classmates and teachers. But of course, our disability should not be a reason to be understood and excused. As much as possible, we must prove that our visual limitation is not a hindrance to learn or even to become top of the class. Thank God that we are already in the world of technology and gadgets like laptops or recorders give us the ability to create our own outputs, take down the necessary notes, and review our lessons thus getting high scores in examinations and even create our own PowerPoint presentation during class reporting. But another problem is that not all of us can afford to purchase such kinds of assistive technology which was supposed to aid our limitations. That’s why we felt so blessed when we knew that all of these expensive gadgets were within our reach through the help of the Resources for the Blind and ICEVI. All we have to do is to maximize the functions of these gadgets and do the best that we can. I pray and hope that God will continuously bless these organizations so that they will be able to extend their hands more to students like me in reaching our dreams through education.