Durban - A blind student has proven that not even disability can stop one from succeeding in life.
Ntombizodwa Chiya graduated with an Honours in Education at the University of KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday.
“Most people who are blind, don’t consider themselves on the same level as able-bodied people. This thinking must stop. We are capable of so much, our loss of sight should not stop us from achieving our dreams. Blind people should educate themselves, and not see themselves as burdens,” said Chiya.
Chiya was born blind like her father, aunts and her partially sighted nephew, the university said in a statement.
“Although Chiya never had sight, it did not deter her from studying for her degree. She says she owes much of her success to hard work, perseverance, strong will and determination.
She lost both her parents at a young age but was excited that her sister was able to see
her graduate with her postgraduate degree.
“Her research looks at language discrimination in KwaZulu-Natal schools. She found that pupils who came from homes where both English and the mother-tongue language was spoken, tend to mix up their languages resulting in poor academic performance,” the statement read.
In her research, Chiya suggests that mother-tongue languages such as isiZulu be selected as a medium of instruction and teaching in KwaZulu-Natal schools to enable pupils to perform well.
Chiya encountered many challenges while she was doing her research and had to rely mainly on electronic means for research purposes, such as e-books.
“She relied on her own software application on her computer which read out parts of journal articles and information for her to hear and type out. She touch-typed her entire thesis but used editing services to make corrections to grammar, punctuation and formatting.
“Chiya hopes to one day use the knowledge she gained from her research and personal experiences, to establish an NGO (non-governmental organisation) that advocates for blind people and helps raise awareness around disability issues and the impact it has on the psyche of disabled people,” the university said.
Chiya encouraged other students with disabilities to follow their dreams.
“Strive for your best. Focus on yourself,” said Chiya who is currently completing her Masters in Education.