Lifestyle

How visually impaired Mukarwego defied odds to attain a doctorate

Dr. Betty Mukarwego, a lecturer in the University of Rwanda’s College of Education (UR/CE) is the only visually impaired woman in Rwanda who holds a PhD which she was awarded in 2015 from Kenyatta University in Kenya.

Mukarwego, 52, is a lecturer with nine years of experience.

Speaking in an interview with IGIHE, Mukarwego said that people with visual impairment are capable of reaching their full potential.

Mukarwego who got visual impairment in her childhood, had the first challenge that would have spoiled her future, was being born in refuge camp in Burundi. However, as luck was on her side she was supported by missionaries to join schools which were providing education to visually impaired children in Kenya. In Kenya, she studied primary and secondary school.

“It was not an easy journey because, after completing primary school, I joined a school without special care to children with visual impairment. But, I tried my best to catch up and performed well,” she said.

In 2008, she returned in the country, approached the Ministry of Education to find a job for her and was placed in UR/CE.

How she works?

“I prepare my lectures into Braille (a tactile writing system used by people who are visually impaired), but also have a person who translates them into normal letters and when I am teaching I project on the wall. I also use a student to change slides and I explain by using my reading from my braille notes,” she explained.

She says that at the beginning, different students from other classes used to join her class to see how a visually impaired lecturer teaches.

“They used to tell me that students from other classes come to see how I teach, but later on they found it usual and appreciated it,” she said.

How she attained PhD

Though she had been a lecturer, Mukarwego who was thirsty to study until she reaches the peak, in 2011, she started to apply for scholarship, though discouragements were a common occurrence.

“Even my boss at university used to tell me that they are no longer providing scholarships, but, I myself went to see the Minister of Education, he was Dr. Vincent Biruta by the time., I told him my problems and he asked me to leave him with my documents. Days later, they told me that my scholarship was approved and I chose to go to Kenya as there were people to facilitate me during my research,” she explained.

In 2015, Mukarwego was awarded a PhD and became the first woman with visual impairment to hold it in Rwanda.

“I was pleased by hearing that PhD in the category of visually impaired people was awarded to a Rwandan,” she said.

Mukarwego is now pleased of serving the country particularly in providing her contribution in education.

“I am very happy because I serve my nation, I teach children who will be tomorrow leaders of the country. I sometime encounter them and tell me that I taught them in KIE, former Kigali Institute of Education, now UR/CE” she said.

Mukarwego also is the head of women in National Union of People with Visual Impairment. She says that it pleases her to represent such category in providing ideas and lectures that benefits them.

She added that as the government has supported people from all categories, in line with promoting inclusive education, they should consider increasing equipment friendly with people with visual impairment. She says that the move will help persons with such problem perform well as normal persons.

“The reason behind having PhD is because I got basic requirements., if others were blessed to have such assistance even in vocational schools, they would develop themselves, a visually impaired woman would also develop,” she added. source igihe

The Express News

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