This World Teachers' Day, discover how one teacher is redefining education for children with disabilities. Learn more about his unique teaching methods that enable visually impaired children to overcome educational barriers.
Imagine being 10 years old, leaning so close to your study card that your cheek almost touches it, squinting just to make out a single letter of the alphabet. This is Chikondi's day in class, a bright boy who is almost blind due to cataracts. He holds a card in his hand with the letter C written on it. But it is only when his cheek almost touches the card that he can make out the letter. "A C," he calls out eagerly in English, looking up at his teacher Falok Mutano.
He smiles. "Very good!"
And on he goes through the alphabet in this laborious way. For Chikondi, every letter recognised is a small victory, every word read a big task.
"Read out loud," the teacher asks him, and Chikondi works his way through F and G, the words "fish" and "dog". After some searching, he successfully taps the word "cat" on a card with different words.
Teacher Mutano has written all this on cards - with extra-large letters for his student. Chikondi is ten years old anda very good student, better than his sighted twin brother Kondwani, who is one class below him at school.
But Chikondi’s ability to study fully is impaired. He is almost blind due to cataracts.
The Dedicated Teacher Mutano
In a crowded classroom at CBM Partner Njewa Primary School in Lilongwe, Malawi, teacher Falok Mutano prompts Chikondi and his classmates using oversized flashcards. This is no ordinary classroom; it is a haven for 20 children with different abilities taught by a man who sees abilities where others see limitations.
On this World Teachers' Day, CBM celebrates Falok Mutano, the unsung hero nurturing young people like Chikondi to not only see the world but to change it.
A Different Alphabet for a Different World
If you ask Falok Mutano how he teaches Chikondi, he will tell you, "In the regular large class, only lecture style of teaching works. That's where a child like Chikondi gets lost."
It's not just about the ABCs but also about the way schools teach to better meet the needs of each child. Mutano's teaching style is tailored to the individual needs of each child.
At lunchtime, classes in the special class end.
Not Just Lessons, But Life Skills
It's not merely about reading and writing, but also about making connections and nurturing empathy. Teacher Mutano has also trained other teachers on how to integrate children like Chikondi into regular classes. How important is this? "The regular class is important for Chikondi to make friends of the same age – and for them to learn how to interact with children with disabilities," Mutano explains. Chikondi’s ambitions are not limited by the walls of his classroom: he wants to be a doctor. But for that, he needs to be able to see. Fortunately, his sight can be restored.
A New Chapter: The Miracle of Sight
Through donations, Chikondi was able to undergo life-changing cataract surgery at CBM partner hospital Nkhoma Eye Hospital in Malawi. His joyful exclamation as he removed the bandage sums it up: "There's a table with a computer on it!" This defining moment means not only that he can see again, but also that a whole new world opens up to him, and teacher Mutano could not be happier. Chikondi’s latest achievement? He can read letters that are a metre away from the blackboard - something he could not even dream of a week ago.
He can also safely go to the market and marvel at the bright colours. This journey is not only his own, but also that of a teacher who saw in a world of potential in a child where others saw only limitations.
A World of Change: Starting With One Classroom
Falok Mutano's work not only impacts the lives of his 20 special students but radiates throughout the entire community. This World Teachers' Day, CBM celebrates not just a teacher, but all teachers who work tirelessly for inclusive education.