Judas Modala. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Nelspruit - A 36-year-old man from Ngodini in Mpumalanga has successfully completed his Bachelor of Education Diploma with distinctions - 20 years after he lost his eyesight.

Judas Modala said he almost gave up his dream for a better life when he went blind in 1998 after being diagnosed with glaucoma, which then caused him to drop out of school just after completing grade 11.

“Because it was hard making ends meet, I decided to go to [the] Mpumalanga department of education to ask for a job, but instead the department decided that going to school was the best thing for me,” he said.

Modala said he had a hard time studying at home when he returned to school in 2012, having to use textbooks and question papers used by "ordinary public schools", but did not let that get in the way of his "second chance".

“I did my matric at home and had no one like a teacher to teach me, except my family who had to download software that could assist to record my curriculum information. The strategy was very challenging but I was glad that I passed my matric then."

Modala was subsequently funded by the education department to study teaching, which he completed with full distinctions. He will graduate this year. 

"No one can imagine the trauma of waking up one day and learning that they are now blind. It sure changes everything, and my story was no exception because all my life was practically rearranged. I am happy that I did not let [the] odds get in the way of my success in life and I hope that my story becomes an inspiration to blind people to continue living and being ambitious regardless.

“When I made it my business to complete my education with distinctions, like I did, my mission was to pose a challenge to the department of education to build schools that will safely accommodate the blind, because due to a lack of such a set up it shuns them away from education hopes at all,” Modala said.

Mpumalanga education department spokesman Gerald Sambo praised Modala's achievement, saying the department was proud of him for being a true example of determination and resilience.

“We are very happy for Judas's success and we call upon communities to give people with disabilities a chance in life because they too are capable,” said Sambo.

The department had an inclusive directorate which was instrumental in ensuring that learners with disabilities received the best education. “What parents of children living with disabilities need to [do is] get space for their child, and therefore approach the nearest [education] circuit for assistance,” he said.

 African News Agency/ANA