UKA for Schools for the Blind in Sierra Leone
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The Milton Margai School for the Blind, Freetown

The Milton Margal School for the Blind was founded in May 1956 with Government support.

For the first seven years of its existence, the school had a temporary home in a rented house in College Road in Congo Cross, Freetown.

The one foundation teacher was Miss Wilhemina Johnson, who had a UK certificate in Special Education, and was herself only partially sighted. The school had an initial roll of 3 pupils. Mr Samuel Campbell assumed office as teacher/headmaster of the school in January 1959.

The steady growth attained by the school in the enrolment, from three pupils in 1956 to fourteen (ten boys and four girls) in 1959, was a most substantial indicator of the need for the school in Sierra Leone. With fourteen fully boarding pupils, the restricted temporary school building was at full capacity. During Independence in 1961, an appeal was launched for funds and materials, and with the enthusiastic approval of the then Prime Minister, Sir Milton Margai construction began on a permanent building for the school. Negotiations with the Government for land led to the allocation of ten acres of state land, which now provides the permanent site for the school on Wilkinson Road, Freetown.

On the 26th April 1962, in commemoration of the first Independence Anniversary of Sierra Leone, the Right Honourable Sir Milton Margal laid the foundation stone of the present permanent site on Wilkinson Road and the school was renamed as the Sir Milton Margal School for the Blind.

The original building was a single storey building with classrooms, offices, dormitories, dining room, kitchen and storage rooms, all leading directly off walkways which form the four sides of a square.

The library and additional classrooms were added in 1974 and 1979. In 1982, the Christoffel House building was constructed as a gift from the Christoffel Blinden Mission in Germany. This two storey co-educational building contains large dormitories and a staff annexe on each floor.

There are presently 83 pupils - 42 primary, 27 secondary, 5 vocational, 8 college, and 1 university student. There are 7 teachers, 10 ancillary staff, the Matron, 2 Braillists, 1 Secretary, 1 Assistant Administrator, the Deputy Headmaster and the Headmaster.

The school follows a normal Primary curriculum but with extra emphasis on Braille reading and writing and on Typing. We have various extra curricula activities in particular, singing - the choir is renowned throughout Sierra Leone and even overseas.

The school has seen through the recent turmoil of Sierra Leone's savage civil war. It was evacuated during the coup in 1998, and was affected by shelling in 1999 owing to it's close proximity to the neighbouring Cockerill Barracks, home at that time to the Nigerian ECOMOG force. A number of pupils were blinded by rebels during the conflict, and many others were affected through loss of family members.

The school has the most basic of facilities, but strives hard and does achieve high academic standards. Pupils battle daily with the difficulties they face living in a culture that does not always value the disabled, and yet many of those leaving go on into higher education. The atmosphere at the school is a very happy one as the staff endeavour to give the blind pupils a normal school and home environment. They are provided with a good education and the welfare and mobility skills that will equip them for life.