Care of children and most vulnerable layers of population in need of special care has been the key priority of the activities of the Heyder Aliyev Foundation, headed by MP Mehriban Aliyeva, the First Lady, UNESCO Good Will Ambassador, since the very establishment. Over the short period of its functioning the Heydar Aliyev Foundation has carried out some big programs and projects such as New Schools for Renewing Azerbaijan, Life without Talassemia, Care of children suffering from diabetics, Development of orphanages and boarding schools, etc.
132 schools have been built in different districts and villages of Azerbaijan within the framework of the program New Schools for Renewing Azerbaijan, while in the second stage it is planned to construct 100 schools more.
Meanwhile, renovation and equipment supply of all boarding schools have been done throughout the county in compliance with the program on Development of orphanages and boarding schools.
Another aspect of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation is to set up the international level of cooperation. An agreement on cooperation with the UNDP on the project on Provision of access of the blind and people with poor eyesight to information and communications technologies (ICT) was signed in December 2005.
The Executive Director of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, the National Coordinator of the project, Anar Alakbarov, told Trend correspondent about the objectives of the project and its implementation.
Alakbarov noted that the project with the budget of $418,000 is implemented jointly with the UNDP. The key objective of the project is to promote the abilities of the blind and people with poor eyesight in the use of information-communications technologies, as well as to provide their access to education and increase of their employment. As a result of implementation of the project it is planned to determine need of the blind and people with poor eyesight in use of information technologies with respect to design a national strategy on removal of existing figure deference.
A special working group comprised of national coordinator, manager, international expert, national expert, technical expert, expert on trainings and project assistant was established with respect to carry out the project. Within the framework of the project there was conducted an inquiry for study of needs of the blind and people with the poor eyesight. Moreover, the consultations were conducted on the issue with different countries and non-governmental organizations. Tours were made to foreign countries with respect to study the international experience, to define technical parameters of the software and purchase special equipment. An action plan was designed and a consultative council of national experts on technical issues was established.
At the same time it is planned to establish a special class provided with specific computers at boarding school for the blind located in Narimanov district of Baku. It is planned to localize the software, as well as access to Internet, use international experts experience in the sphere of development of educative programs for the blind and people with the poor eyesight.
There are also plans on the establishment of a library and a center for the blind and people with poor eyesight, supply of audio-materials and books on Brail system. Moreover, a record studio will be established with respect to develop different literature in a special audio-format. Special trainings will be conducted for teachers.
Alakbarov informed that immediately after the signing of a project documents between the Foundation and the UNDP there was established a group on the implementation of the project. A tender was held for selection and purchase of necessary equipment and word processors. At present talks with the world leading producers is underway for acquisition of specific equipment. The project is due to complete by the end of this year, whereas all efforts are taken to accelerate its implementation. The experts of the project also plan to scrutinize the experience of the world leading countries in the sphere of integration of the blind and people with the poor eyesight with respect to define optimal and more acceptable ways for the resolution of problems in their education and employment. In this context the first visit was paid to Frankfurt, Germany. The delegation participated in an exhibition and conference organized for the blind and people with poor eyesight. Participation in the event promoted awareness in this sphere, familiarity with the activities of special libraries and classes, and establishment of contacts with the companies manufacturing special technologies, Alakbarov underlined. As a result of the tour it was resolved to acquire special equipment for Brail system, in particular, organizers, video-lights, compact bibliophiles, printers and monitors.
The video-light is a multifunctional assistant of eyesight enabling to multiple increase of the images that fall on objective of the device.
Compact bibliophiles are allocated for readers who are interested in study of the similar management by computer. It is designed for use in the reading hall of libraries. The user can read the books not published in Brail. It is enough to put the ordinary book on glass of the scanner, switch on and in 10-20 minutes the bibliophile will start reading.
Moreover, it is also planned to acquire special printers and monitors. The President of the Foundation personally insisted on inclusion of specialized monitors in the list of equipment to be purchased, though earlier the project did not stipulate it at all.
Along with pupils of the boarding schools the blind and people with poor eyesight of elder age category will also have an access to the ICT. It is planned to ensure the security of the use of computers. A special furniture will be installed in the building of the boarding school and a special waiting hall will be allocated for the accompanying people.
The coordinator of the project underlined that over 30,000 blind and people with poor eyesight have been registered officially in the country, while the unofficial statistics urges their number to exceed over 40,000. Only 2 boarding schools function in the country one in Baku and another in Nakhchivan.
Alakbarov also announced that there is an idea on the establishment of a kindergarten both for the blind and for the people with poor eyesight. At present the idea is under consideration of the Foundation and perhaps, shortly, a special project will be developed to realize it.
In the process of implementation of the project the Foundation actively cooperates with the different state bodies such as the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Heath, the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, the Society of the Blind and some international organizations.
The Foundation is probable to continue the cooperation with the UNDP. Official representatives of the organization are satisfied with the cooperation with the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and are eager to expand joint activities. It was asserted by David Eizenberg, the Deputy Permanent Representative of UNDP in Azerbaijan, who said, We are very glad with the leading role and position of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, and support the Azerbaijani governments efforts directed at rendering assistance to the blind and people with the poor eyesight in ensuring their access to the information society, as well as use of computers and access to Internet. It will increase their opportunities in social integration, employment and considerably improve the quality of life.
In the end Alakbarov noted that the care of children and most vulnerable layers of population in need of special care remains to be the priority of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and further all efforts will be directed at granting different vulnerable layers of population with equal conditions to bring closer maximally their life and functionality in the society to normal and full-fledged level.