Everyday life in the National Institute for Education of Blind Children
It was on 1st September1895 that the National Institute for Education of Blind Children in Zagreb was opened, with thirteen blind children to be provided with general education and vocational training in craft for boys and handwork for girls.
Blind children as a term implies reference to those children who lacked sight or were, due to impaired sight, inhibited in advancing at public school.
In addition to music and religious classes, children at the Institute were taught reading and writing skills, algebra, using embossed letters and numbers palpable by fingers.
In order to gain independence, they learned to make beds, clean foot- and dress ware, fold napkins by themselves… They play together, study and get on nicely.
The rooms are spacious and well-aired.
The Manager of the Institute is Vinko Bek, teacher, 1st grade classmaster , museum, study room and library keeper, lecturing all subjects, even physical education and handwork. The actuary of the archbishop’s writing room, Barle Janko, lectures religious classes. Professor of the Royal Teachers school Brixi Ivan teaches physical education while teacher Flora Floglova holds handwork classes and the prefect position. First year it was like that.
It is enough to describe only one day at the Institute at the end of the 19th century, at the time when different peace and order ruled, to display what it was like back then. That day is brought to life by a 15-minute documentary film, a reconstruction of life and work of the Institute attendants, their trainers and teachers, which became the integral part of our contemporary permanent exhibition, with the intention to demonstrate to visitors one segment of origins of special education and to present teaching aids and tools from those days, behavior of children, their plays and prayers, all for the benefit of restoring the spirit of that time, which is of significant importance for gaining insight into the origins of institutionalized care for visually impaired children in Croatia.
In the function of inclusion, the film features blind children themselves, pupils of the Centar for education “Vinko Bek” from Zagreb, successor of the National Institute for Education of blind children.