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Christian Blind Mission

Christoffel Blindenmission Christian Blind Mission eV (CBM) is an independent aid organization of Christians of various denominations dedicated to serving eye patients and vision impaired individuals as well as other people with disabilities in developing countries throughout the world, regardless of nationality, race, gender or religion. It has its roots in Germany, where it was founded by Pastor Ernst Jakob Christoffel in 1908.

CBM’s activities are concentrated in the areas of: (1) prevention and cure of blindness; (2) education, rehabilitation and reintegration of persons with disabilities; and (3) training national staff. Its major projects include eye hospitals/mobile eye clinics, education of blind and deaf people, rehabilitation programmes and orthopedic clinics.

During 2003, the CBM supported 1,015 projects and programmes in more than 110 countries with approximately 700 partners. To ensure the quality of work and the development of guidelines and policies, the CBM has Advisory Working Groups in each of its fields of service, including groups for the education of the visually impaired, and education of the deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind.


In 2003, the CBM supported 273 projects for the education and/or rehabilitation of the visually impaired in 87 countries. These projects included schools, integrated education programmes, teacher training centres, and nursery schools. Altogether, CBM activities for the visually impaired served 15,234 schoolchildren and 9,865 pupils in integrated education. The CBM also provided support for the production of special materials and equipment such as Braille textbooks, low vision devices, and teaching aids, including a standard education kit. In addition, the CBM helped organize teacher-training courses to improve the quality of education services, and worked to transform special schools for the visually impaired into resource centres in order to serve a larger population. The emphasis in these activities is on inclusive education for every student.


In Asia, a number of projects promoting integrated education are making an impact. For example, in the South-East Asia and Pacific region, the number of visually impaired children supported by the CBM rose from 297 in 1998 to 2,149 in 2002. The highest number of these children benefiting from inclusive education is in the Philippines, thanks to close cooperation with the Department of Education. Nevertheless, only about 13% of all visually impaired children are currently being served, and greater efforts to promote inclusive education are needed. In Papua New Guinea, the development of integrated education for the visually impaired is continuing, with an emphasis on early identification and prevention, training teachers in inclusive methods, and strengthening support for current programmes.


In South Asia, the CBM continues to support the training of special education teachers and community-based rehabilitation workers, as well as upgrading residential schools to become comprehensive resource centres for the visually impaired. In the northern part of the region, the CBM currently supports six projects in the field. The number of CBM-supported  blind children in school increased from 991 in 1999 to 1,436 in 2002, whereas the total number of blind children in inclusive education went up from 373 to 636 during the same period. One priority in this region is the inclusion of girls.


In regard to the hearing impaired, in 2003 the CBM supported 130 projects in 60 countries, including schools, teacher training centres, integrated education centres and nursery schools.


Altogether, CBM activities benefited 13,281 schoolchildren and 3,763 pupils in integrated education.


In this field of service, CBM activities have three aims: (1) to implement a variety of education programmes to meet the needs of deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind people, including NFE, home-based programmes, outreach, integrated and inclusive programmes, residential schools, and units in mainstreamed settings; (2) to encourage schools for deaf children to be used as resource centres for the development of outreach services (i.e., units attached to regular schools); and (3) to help teachers become more sensitive to the needs of deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind children.


In South Asia, programmes for the education of the hearing impaired continue to promote inclusive education. Medium-term objectives include encouraging the use and application of sign language, early identification procedures combined with intensive preschool  programmes, more opportunities for the deaf-blind population, and more active programme monitoring and advocacy. Specific projects are preparing young people who are incurably deaf to enter higher education, or are focusing on children with hearing aids who are ready for integration into regular upper primary classrooms.


In the South-East Asia and Pacific, the number of deaf or hearing impaired children supported by the CBM went up from 524 in 1998 to 1,168 in 2002. In the Philippines, there is now a summer (in-service) training course for teachers of the deaf, supported in partnership with the Department of Education. The CBM also supports sign language training and national congresses for educators, school administrators and local education officials.


In Papua New Guinea, a one-year course in “Deaf Education” has been developed and adopted as part of the teacher training curriculum.


The country’s national special education plan also recommends that special units for deaf children be included in regular schools. The existence of a national policy and continuing close cooperation with education authorities, as well as support at the local level, strongly facilitate CBM deaf education activities in this country.


Clearly, the activities and projects of the CBM go beyond the provision of basic literacy to the individuals they serve. Nevertheless, children and youth with visual or hearing disabilities are no less deserving of opportunities for basic education than other young people. The CBM’s efforts to serve this often-neglected population in developing countries are very much in line with the objectives of the United Nations Literacy Decade.



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