Kathmandu, January 8:

“Two to three students have to share a book written in the Braille script, as most textbooks easily available in the market are not meant for blind students,” said visually impaired students. They demanded that educational institutions should provide them adequate reading materials to make them as competent as normal students.

Dawa Sherpa of Sankhuwasabha, who is now studying at the Mahendra Ratna Campus, Tahachal, said she has been facing difficulties in the classroom, as she does not have her own book written in Braille script. She said the state should import reference materials considering the plight of visually impaired students in rural areas.

Kamal Singh,15, an eighth grader at the Laboratory School in Kirtipur, said there are problems in studying geometry, pictures, and practical subjects, and that he has been deprived of studying stories, poetry, novels and essays that incorporate national and international activities. He lost his sight when he was six.

Braille script is a medium for self-study without any help from others for the blind, and the blind can read it by touching it as it is carved in thick paper.

Although Braille script was believed to have been introduced in Nepal in 2021 BS by a blind Jung Bahadur Bogati, it has not been expanded and developed as expected.

The Nepal Blind Welfare Association, and the Nepal Netrahin Sangh have been, with assistance from the Ministry of Education and Sports, preparing textbooks. They have printing machines that publish in the Braille script. They have been providing almost all school level textbooks in Braille script. But, for higher studies, books on English, Nepali, constitution and law are available in the Braille script, it is learnt.

Suresh Rajbhandari, central member of the Nepal Netrahin Sangh, which has been providing Braille textbooks for the past seven years, said the government has provided 6,000 schoolbooks worth Rs 3.5 million.

Some 10,000 books have been prepared in Braille for schools, said central president of the Sangh, Nar Bahadur Limbu.

According to the Nepal Netrahin Sangh, Nepal has 74, 000 visually impaired population of the school-going age. Of them, 15,000 have reached schools under the school education programme started by the government. Prof Harsha Narayan Dhaubhadel said the Braille is a resource bridging the gap between the blind and those with sight, and the blind should themselves come forward for their rights. Spokesman at the Education Ministry Lava Prasad Tripathy said problems of the blind students will be included in the policy.