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Blind Soroti teacher wins Commonwealth study grant

By Godfrey Ojore

Added 4th September 2019 07:05 AM

Olaki has defied many odds to get to where he is today. Despite his visual impairment, the 43-year-old channels a lot of passion into everything that he does.

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Olaki has been in the teaching profession for 18 years now. (Credit: Godfrey Ojore)

Olaki has defied many odds to get to where he is today. Despite his visual impairment, the 43-year-old channels a lot of passion into everything that he does.

EDUCATION

SOROTI - Born blind, Simon Peter Olaki has had to leap over several hurdles right from his childhood. Today, four decades on, his steely resilience and positive approach to life is paying off in many ways than one.

The 43-year-old deputy headteacher of Soroti Senior Secondary School has shown that he has a clear vision after securing a Commonwealth scholarship to study in the UK.

A Manchester United fan, Olaki hopes that some time during his one-year study at The University of Manchester, he will get a chance to visit Old Trafford and 'watch' his favourite football team play.

He is pursuing a Master's in Educational Leadership.

 hhhhhh Simon Peter Olaki busy instructing a class in Soroti

 

Olaki, who was born in Guyaguya sub-county in Katakwi district, is the only of six children in his family to have gone through school and get employed.

For him, growing up visually impaired meant many obstacles. But what he lacked in visual abilities, he made up for in a determined character. A firmness of purpose.

He graduated from Makerere University with a Bachelor's degree in education on Government sponsorship. He was later employed as a teacher at St. Francis Primary School, Madera in Soroti district. This is where he attained his primary education.

After eight years at Madera, Olaki opted for a transfer to a school of able-bodied students. He was duly posted to Soroti Senior Secondary School as a teacher, where he taught Literature at A-level.

In 2016, when the school advertised a vacancy for the post of deputy headteacher, Olaki applied and emerged successful.

Having been in the teaching profession for 18 years, Olaki wanted to further his education, but availability of special equipment to facilitate his learning was a challenge.

“My education has been full of challenges because most materials are lacking. Most textbooks are not in Braille format,” he said.

Despite these setbacks, he did not let up.

When he applied for the Commonwealth scholarship, Olaki was optimistic despite it being a very competitive grant. He competed with able-bodied people and eventually emerged a successful applicant.

He has since flown to the UK and is readying himself for the programme, which starts in mid-September and ends in November 2020.

Interestingly, he travelled alone on board an Emirates flight from Entebbe via Dubai to the UK.

“It is not a simple matter to emerge victorious out of the possibly thousands of applicants. It is by God's grace that I was awarded the grant. I am absolutely excited," he said before departing. He flew out of the country looking sharp in a dark suit.

On the other end of the world, Olaki would be received by his friend, Margaret Stevens, who supported him financially through A-level at Teso College.

“Margaret was so helpful to me by sending me educational material for my studies," he said.



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