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Provision of assistive devices improves academic performance of a learner with visual challenges

Ropafadzo and her mother testifying on the impact brought by the provision of spectacles.

Ropafadzo shared her story about how her social and academic life was transformed

Grade 7 student from Wadzanai Primary School in Shamva, Ropafadzo shared her story with Towards Resilient with Health, Equality and Safety for All (TORCHES) project about how the project has transformed her social and academic life after having received spectacles earlier this year. 

Ropafadzo has been struggling with clear vision since she started school, and she was unable to read clearly what was written on the chalkboard.

“In grade one my class position was usually thirty-seven or thirty-eight out of forty-five because I had visual challenges, and no interventions were made as there were no resources available. Every time I would have to sit on the front of which I was not comfortable with the setup,” she said.

Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe was informed earlier this year by Wadzanai Primary school teacher, Chengeta Willard, that Ropafadzo needed to undergo visual assessment as her academic performance was degrading. Willard also said Ropa was repeatedly scoffed at by her peers as she blocked their sight of the chalkboard during reading and writing exercises which sometimes made her to miss lessons.

Ropafadzo was then taken to an eye unit at Bindura Provincial Hospital for visual acuity assessments and she was prescribed spectacles with the help of LCDZ.

“I can now see properly; I no longer struggle to read what is written on the chalk board as well as reading texts books and I can decide where I want to sit because my vision has been enhanced. I treasure the spectacles and with them my sight has been highly boosted. My academic grades have improved. Last term I was on position number twelve, and I hope to do better next term,” said Ropafadzo.

Willard added that Ropafadzo no longer miss school and her self-esteem has been boosted through the provision of assistive devices.

“Where is that girl who sits very near the chalkboard? That was the first question every teacher who came into my class would ask whenever Ropafadzo was absent. Like in most schools, Wadzanai has an acute shortage of textbooks and teachers rely heavily on the chalkboard to impart knowledge to the class. For some children who have short sight learning becomes a burden.,” he said.

The now cheerful girl, Ropafadzo is an active TUSEME member, and she now advocates for the less empowered girls with disabilities.