Shujaa: Blind teacher who beat odds to teach in a regular school

Shujaa: Blind teacher who beat odds to teach in a regular school

Moses Kendagor puts his papers together as he briskly walks into class to a jubilant Class Four at Kipsyenan Primary School in Nakuru County. With a warm smile, he greats the pupils who aptly respond in unison.

Kendagor is blind, but has fully mastered his surroundings. He understands the terrain and walks with ease in school without a white cane. He has mastered classes and even voices and teaches in a regular school; his lesson plans and notes are however written in braille.
“Understanding is believing, you do not have to see to believe or even trust. I have been teaching for 11 years, both in integrated and regular schools and things have turned out well. Satisfaction and brilliant results from my students is what motivates me,” says Kendagor.

Geography and Kiswahili

Unlike the rest of teachers in the school, the 37-year-old teacher prepares his notes in a braille or a slate and above all masters them well to keep up with technology. “Content is very important. I make sure I master everything because the bulk of my work lies on making the learners understand. With the current technology, learners are often quick to learn and you cannot dare explain a wrong thing without an instant correction. My work entails a lot of explanation, and dictating notes too. I too give notes to students by the help of a teacher’s aid,” he says.

Kendagor, who teaches upper primary says his classes are often vibrant and interactive, involving students to write on the board since he cannot physically write. “The key thing because they do not use braille in regular school is to make them understand so that once you dictate the notes or give them a question, they can easily solve,” says the Geography and Kiswahili teacher. Kendagor’s bitter-sweet story trails back to when he was only two years old in a remote village in Barwessa in Baringo North Sub-county when he contracted German measles, commonly known as Rubella.

Kendagor survived the deadly viral infection but lost his sight. “I can dimly see light in my left eye but I neither read nor move around on my own outside unfamiliar surroundings,” he says. And although he studied in schools for the blind for his primary and secondary school and later pursued Diploma in Special Education, Kendagor has continued to demystify the odds and has ventured into teaching in regular school, also mentoring blind students. “Teaching students with special needs requires a lot of patience and while others want to completely drop, others completely refuse to learn and it will only take a special heart to talk to them and change their attitude. While teaching in Menegai Integrated School, I encountered several of such cases but I had to act as a case study of a successful person living with disability,” he adds. Kendagor however prides himself in some of his students who have taken the studies and defied the odds, landing in prestigious universities. “I have several students whom I have mentored. Brian Otieno, who was my student at Menengai Primary School emerged the best visually-impaired learner in the country in 2010 and is currently pursuing his further studies. Nahashion Njuguna, also a blind student is currently in Moi University and many others,” the blind teacher says.

Guide books

Sourcing for teacher’s guide books and other study books for the visually impaired, the teacher said, is still a huddle in schools with some equipment very expensive to source. “A braille alone is Sh85,000 while a slate is Sh2,000. The books too are hard to come by and but with the help of my colleagues and my wife, they can read to me so that I make notes. I have however compiled own notes to guide me in lessons,” he adds. Kendagor’s journey is yet to come to a close – he wants to clock 20 years in the teaching profession – imparting his knowledge to learners that are visually impaired before vying for a political position. “I still want to use my wealth of experience in a school teaching visually impaired pupils and mentoring them. Above all, I would like to vie for a seat with an aim of bringing a revolution,” he says. The youthful teacher’s wish is that more schools that cater for special needs pupils are put up and equipped. He would also want to equip existing integrated schools with equipment to boost learning. “This way, we will empower those with physical challenges to earn a living,” he says.

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