A newly proposed law on inclusive schools effectively means there will be no money available to train adults at the School for the Blind in Nicosia, head of the Pancyprian Organisation for the Blind Christakis Nicolaides has said.
Such a change would be catastrophic for the blind community, he warned.
“More than 155 adults visit the school on a daily basis. There would be no support to prepare young people for university. Those who were trained in technology need to be retrained when technology changes,” he said. “There is another set of skills which need to be taught to those who go blind later in life.”
The Pancyprian Association of Parents of Blind Children announced on Monday that the school for the Blind in Nicosia will not close down, but this does not help the adults in need of education.
There have been services to train adults since the St Barnabas school for the blind was founded in 1929, Nicolaides said. People from all over Cyprus were initially trained to make trays and baskets.
In 1999 and 2000, the ministry of education was made responsible for the school, and the provisions of the law included services for adults.
As Nicolaides stressed, it was not regarded as a special school, but part of the education ministry.
When the new proposed law was discussed on February 15, representatives from the association of the blind were not invited, and there was no word about the adult blind people, he added.
The blind are taking measures to ensure that the new legislation will not have the disastrous consequences they fear.
On Tuesday, Nicolaides handed over suggestions to Education Minister Costas Hambiaouris.
He proposes the services for the adults should be transferred to the Ministry for Labour and Social Welfare and should be independent from the inclusive education as this is how it works in other countries.
According to the head of the blind association, the education minister said he would examine the suggestions and respond within 15 days.