Title ID 9236Collection ID1123
TitleLooking on Darkness
Genre/TypeProfessionalFilm/Video companyInstitutionalNon-fictionFundraising
KeywordsBuildings Charities Children Dance Disabled Persons Ethnic Groups Everyday Life Handicrafts Health Services Labour Men Music Schools Villages Workers Education
LocalBlantyre Lower Shire
NationalAfrica Malawi
ProductionHallam Film Group
CameraE.H.C. Tooze; J.H. Ridgwick
DirectorE.H.C. Tooze; J.H. Ridgwick
ProducerHallam Film Group
Commissioning bodyRoyal Commonwealth Society for the Blind
Funding bodyRoyal Commonwealth Society for the Blind
NarratorBarrie Smith
SoundDuncan S. Beales
Format16mm Colour Sound
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


This colour documentary film explores the lives of blind children in Malawi and how new schemes help to provide open primary education for both blind and sighted children in the same classroom. The film also explores village life from the perspectives of blind and sighted children and follows a group of teachers as they undergo training to learn the techniques needed to teach in the open school environment. The film has opening and closing titles, music and credits.


The film opens with a child at a village in the Blantyre district, then shows the Lower Shire area of Malawi, where the Trachoma virus is rife among local populations spread by dust and dirt kicked up by the roaming cattle and livestock. A small group from the village have been chosen to attend a school for the blind, which allows the children to learn Braille, dance and perform plays. The film reviews a pilot programme that educates sighted and blind children together, created by the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind. A related rehabilitation project also teaches older boys and men to farm land, build houses with their own clay bricks and farm chickens in huts for food or to trade.

The final part of the film explores the open education system, providing teachers with the methods and skills to teach both blind and sighted children in the same classrooms that includes the Perkins Brailler or Typewriter, the Taylor Frame (number board), the Braille number notation and the Cube Rhythm board. The teachers train at St Montfort Teacher Training College in, Blantyre. A mixed group of children make abacus beads and a frame from baked clay. Blind and sighted children are taught together using the same tools designed for blind classmates. The film ends with a summary of the opportunities available to those that attend an open school and the need for the audience to financially support the Society in their work.


A still from Looking on Darkness (1967)

Related resources


Looking on Darkness (1967)

Further information can be seen on the BFI Explore Film & TV page with cast and credits