With each lesson, the children's keystrokes grow swifter and more precise. The click, click, click is the tapping of little fingers. This cacophony is the sound of education.
These students are blind and they are growing increasingly computer-savvy.
With assistance and financial support from Christian Children's Fund and the Sri Lanka Council for the Blind, vision-impaired children are receiving computers and the necessary skills to use them.
The Sri Lanka Council for the Blind manages 13 schools, which are located in 13 different districts — Colombo, Bandarawela, Kandy, Anuradhapura, Kurunegala, Monaragala, Matara, Galle, Hambantota, Rathnapura, Puttalam, Batticaloa and Jaffna.
So far, more than 1,500 children — ages five to 18 — have benefited from the CCF-assisted programs in Sri Lanka.
“The project goal is to empower the blind children to acquire their rightful place in society through education, skills development and promoting community acceptance and support,” said Gamini Pinnalawatte, CCF-Sri Lanka’s national director.
The program’s first phase was so successful last spring that CCF-Sri Lanka elected to continue its financial support through Phase II, which began in November 2005. Phase II will help the vision-impaired children in blind schools by providing educational equipment, libraries, audio equipment and other assistive devices.
The second phase was kicked off in November during a ceremony held at the CCF-Sri Lanka Country office to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between CCF-Sri Lanka and the Sri Lanka Council for the Blind.
“By signing the Memorandum of Understanding, CCF made it possible to assist blind children in their educational requirements and computer training,” said S.L. Herriarachchi, executive director for the Sri Lanka Council for the Blind.
Herriarachchi, who is blind, also thanked the organization for its support and cooperation in making the partnership a reality.