Famous school for blind in Tibet risks being shut down

By Lobsang Tenchoe

DHARAMSALA, August 3: Amidst China’s heightened clampdown on foreign NGOs, a famous school for the blind in Tibet risks being shut down, says the co-founder of the school.

“The Braille Without Borders preparatory school for the blind in Lhasa, as well as a vocational training farm five hours west of the city, could be shut down despite its results having repeatedly been praised by authorities over the years,” Taiwan’s leading English-Language daily newspaper in readership, chinapost.com.tw quoted Sabriye Tenberken, a German who founded the school with her Dutch partner as saying in its report.

20642058_1613228942054843_1591913771_oThe school has been successfully operating for the past 19 years and has so far trained about 300 children aged 6 to 15. The Braille Without Borders preparatory school for the blind in Lhasa is run in partnership with the Tibet Disabled Persons’ Federation (TDPF), a public agency under the umbrella of China Disabled Persons’ Federation, the report says.

According to the report, Tenberken has been notified by the Tibetan agency that the school and vocational farm would be shut down, and the training that aims to help the blind people to integrate into society discontinued.

This came amidst China’s increased crackdown on foreign NGOs and it has left Tenberken complete startled as she has received a slew of awards from Chinese authorities over the years for her work in Tibet.

“We don’t know why it has to stop; the Chinese authorities have always supported and lauded the project,” a startled Tenberken said.

Once her school is closed, the students would be placed in special schools and they won’t receive the specialized training for the blind necessary to become self-sufficient and this gravely unsettles her.

Sabriye Tenberken lost her sight slowly as a child and became completely blind when she turned 13. Braille Without Borders is an international organisation for the blind in developing countries. She cofounded the organisation with Paul Kronrnberg in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital in 1998.