By BOURA GORU-KILA
RICHARD Viura Antado, 28, is a volunteer elementary teacher even though he is blind.
In fact he is the teacher in charge at the Asara Elementary School in the Lamari local level government, Obura-Wanenara district in Eastern Highlands.
Richard is the fifth eldest in a family of eight – all boys. Dad Viura Antado and mum Okai Antado are subsistence farmers. His seven brothers are also subsistence farmers. They all live at Asara village in Lamari.
He attended the Mt Zion Blind Centre in Goroka for elementary prep to grade two from 1992 to 1994.
He went through grades three to 10 from 1995 to 2002 at the Faniufa Primary School, now known as the Sacred Heart High School in Goroka.
He completed grades 11 and 12 at the Goroka Secondary from 2003 to 2005.
Richard was born blind but enjoys teaching because he believes that children are the future leaders of the nation.
The Asara school was temporarily closed but reopened in 2013 when Richard and two other elementary teachers volunteered to teach the 103 students from elementary prep to Grade Two. Two more teachers later joined them. One is a community literacy volunteer and the other one is an Early Childhood Care and Education teacher.
Richard has been teaching at the school since 2013.
“ Start thinking about doing something useful. I call upon the care-givers of blind people to bring them out into the open and get them enrolled in inclusive institutions.”
The school has not received any funding from anywhere so he has been spending money from his own pocket to keep the school opened.
The school has one big classroom which has three rooms built by village councilor Unnu Karu. The Asara elementary school was classified an inclusive school by the Callan Services for Disabled Persons which is a partner with the Save the Children Fund.
Save the Children started assisting the school in 2018 in numeracy, literacy, cross cutting themes training and early childhood training.
They have so far enrolled three blind students and three deaf students.
During the recent National Elementary Education Forum in Port Moresby, PNG Education Institute Director Zui Neofa told The National that Richard had submitted his application to pursue a pre-service two-year Diploma in Early Childhood course. He is expected to start next year.
According to Neofa, Richard’s care-giver Francis Arauko will be accommodated at the institute during his two years of study.
“He is a volunteer teacher and upon receiving his application, we noticed that he scored a very high Grade Point Average (GPA) in Grade 12. He met the requirements so we accepted him. With this training he would be getting, when he graduates, he would be taken on as a qualified teacher.”
Richard is taking it all in his stride. His passion to teach and contribute to the education of children drives him on.
His advice to people if he, a blind man, is keen to teach without being paid, doing something useful rather than just lazing around, everyone can do it.
“Start thinking about doing something useful. I call upon the care-givers of blind people to bring them out into the open and get them enrolled in inclusive institutions.”
Richard believes opportunities are out there for everyone – even the blind such as him.