Social Inclusion through education: Meet a physicist to be
Eni, 12 year old is studying at the Institute of the Blind in Tirana. He was born with retinitis pigmentosa, a condition that makes his vision very low. Today he is excited: He is able to read independently and even for his parents.
“I am so happy I can read my school books without any need for help. I wish I could get other books to read more about famous physicists, their lives, their stories, their ways to success”.
Five months ago, UNDP with funds from the Government of Switzerland, made a thorough renovation of the resource center at the Institute. This included a modern laboratory to produce Braille books equipped with tools to emboss and print literature and the renovation of the audio-recording studio.
“What you see today is not just a set of devices: it is a new philosophy which has entirely changed the way Eni and other students acquire knowledge. This has enabled them to have access to independent reading and complete curricula,” says Emiliano Lule, the Deputy Director of the School.
The Programme has supported:
- 4 community/development centers are established providing social care services for people with disabilities in 4 municipalities
- The renovation of vocational education workshops for about 50 students in the National Institute of the Deaf.
- The elaboration of the Social Inclusion Policy Document 2016-2020, Social Protection Strategy 2015-2020, Social Housing Strategy 2016-2025, National Action Plan on Persons with Disabilities 2016-2020.
The Braille embosser makes it possible to print 900 pages in an hour. To reach that result, the school personnel worked hard to standardize the Albanian Braille system. Now the Albanian Braille code is part of the Duxbury Braille Translator - the only software in the world that can communicate with the devices of Braille book production.
Emiliano remembers: “The Braille embosser combined with the human resources led to an instant book production for the visually impaired pupils. We can produce books, school curricula and other education materials based on the existing need including production of books in large print.”
The Recording Studio was also fully renovated. Volunteers coming from the school of Arts have recorded artistic literature which was then proposed to the students. The entire community of blind people in Tirana will be able to access braille-printed or audio books.
”The renovated laboratories have enabled the visually impaired boys and girls increase knowledge and skills. A society is as healthy as its more vulnerable parts. When the potential of persons with disabilities is fully used, the whole society will benefit in the long run - economically and in terms of social cohesion” notes the Ambassador of Switzerland to Albania Christoph Graf.
“If it is compulsory to produce Braille books for mathematics, foreign language or music scoring, when it comes to history or arts, audio recording works best as it involves the emotional part of reading. says Emiliano.
The studio is also used for performances. “As blind people are strongly connected to the sound, concerts or other artistic activities organized by the blind young artists themselves, require an environment where they would feel confident of moving, singing and playing independently. The studio provides this safe space for creation.”
The renovation has transformed the Blind Students Institute from a specialized education institution into a resource center that will facilitate the inclusive education for blind students.
“About one-fifth of Albanian citizens perceive themselves as socially excluded or at risk of social exclusion. Removing barriers in learning is key to realizing the full participation of people with disabilities in society and to leaving no one behind. These interventions bring most excluded and vulnerable groups up to speed, thus increase the prospects of reaching the SDGs in Albania,” highlighted Brian Williams, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative.
The groups facing multiple barriers to social inclusion in Albania are people with disabilities, those living with HIV/AIDS, women survivors of violence, victims of trafficking Roma and Egyptian communities and children.
To tackle the situation, with financial support from the Government of Switzerland, UN Agencies in Albania have joined forces to implement a multidimensional programme called “UN Support to Social Inclusion in Albania”. The programme comes as a direct support to the implementation of the Government’s new Strategies for Social Inclusion and Social Protection.