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It`s a long climb for disabled students

Discussion in 'Jukwaa la Elimu (Education Forum)' started by MwanaFalsafa1, May 13, 2009.

  1. MwanaFalsafa1

    MwanaFalsafa1 JF-Expert Member

    May 13, 2009
    Joined: Feb 26, 2008
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    A lot more needs to be done to attain education for all, a recently released HakiElimu report says.
    Tanzania is a signatory to a number of international conventions that recognize and promote education for all, including Unesco’s Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action.
    However, there is an urgent need to break barriers that thwart the access to education opportunities for children with disabilities in the country.
    The report titled ‘Accessibility to Education for Children with Disabilities’ by HakiElimu, a non-governmental organization dealing with education issues, identified a number of barriers facing children with disabilities (CWD) in Tanzania.
    These include poor physical infrastructure as well as lack of teachers’ training in teaching students with special needs.
    Other challenges include limited support from parents and the community, lack of teaching and learning facilities for CWD and lack of political will on the part of policy makers.
    Releasing the research findings in Dar es Salaam, the Executive Director for HakiElimu, Elizabeth Missokia said the research findings show that 95 per cent of the school buildings and even those built under the Primary Education Development Programme (PEDP) didn’t take into consideration the needs of students with disabilities.
    “As a result, many students with disabilities, especially those with visual and physical impairments, struggle in their movements from one point to another within the school premises,” said Missokia.
    The report says the systematic physical observation of the school environment confirmed the observations made by the school heads.
    The infrastructure in many schools visited in the research was unfriendly and generally unsupportive for the needs of children with disabilities.
    For instance, the entrance to most buildings had long staircases that cannot be accessed by physically impaired students using wheel chairs.
    However, some school heads said it was very expensive to maintain children with disabilities in schools, especially boarding schools in the absence of special grants for CWD.
    Lack of teachers’ training in teaching students with special needs is also cited as the reason behind poor implementation of inclusive education programmes in schools.
    Missokia also said that the move had been frustrating the inclusive education programme, which was firstly introduced last year in the country.
    The majority of the head teachers interviewed mentioned lack of training in special needs and or inclusive education among teachers as one of the major factors constraining the effective teaching of children with disabilities.
    Another constraint pointed out by the report include lack of teaching and learning facilities, which contributed to weaken effective teaching among the important students’ segment.
    The report said there was a serious need of teaching facilities among this group of students across the country.
    Schools adopting inclusive education need to have Braille machines, swivel chairs and Braille type-writers, which in most cases are expensive.
    The HakiElimu boss also noted that lack of political will for policy makers as a key challenge facing this category of students to get education.
    One District Education Officer in a certain district in the research remarked: “It is something understandable saying too much words and giving out many policy documents and program about education of disabilities while there is no true commitment in action to support them. If the government is really committed, it can help them because they are not many.”
    HakiElimu recommends a need to bridge the knowledge gap about the teaching and learning environment for children with disabilities.
    The report also suggests the need to slot in the teachers’ training curriculum all issues related to students with special needs.
    Parents and the community also featured in the research report findings and are said to be a key barrier to the education of CWD in Tanzania.
    “In many schools, head teachers interviewed explained that they received very little support from parents and the community in general regarding teaching and learning for CWD,” said Missokia.
    Citing examples, Missokia said one head teacher was quoted as saying; “Parents do not have any support. In fact they are a problem; they abandon their children once they are in schools.”
    “The society doesn’t help in education with disabilities. Parents don’t give any cooperation; once their children are in schools they abandon them completely, and they don’t want to be contacted for anything,” another head teacher was quoted as saying.
    It was also found out that disability is not given priority in some districts compared to other disadvantaged groups such as orphans.
    ``In our district, disability is not an issue compared to other disadvantaged groups, such as orphans.
    There are several organizations helping orphaned children in the district, but there is none committed to helping students with disabilities, another primary school head teacher said in the report.
    The HakiElimu research was geared to explore opportunities and challenges concerning the accessibility to education for CWD in Tanzanian schools.
    It covered seven districts-Geita, Muleba, Iramba, Kinondoni, Kasulu, Newala and Ileje.