Despite the adoption of the Global Campaign for Education for All and the advancement of rights for people living with disabilities through various national legislations, deafblind children in Tanzania continue to be systematically excluded from education. This can be because their disability is too severe for them to attend mainstream schools or because there are not enough special schools to cater for all deafblind children in the country. As a result, the education of deafblind children is left to their families. With support from HDIF, Sense International is running a four-year pilot to demonstrate that children with the most complex disabilities can be educated in mainstream classrooms in a way that is both life-changing and cost-effective.
As the result of the pilot:
- Seventy-nine children (40 girls and 39 boys) with deafblindness are achieving their individual education goals as a result of accessing inclusive education.
- Seventy-nine teaching assistants (64 women and 15 men) have been recruited, trained, and mentored to support children with deafblindness and MSI in schools.
- The government is now aware of the needs of children with deafblindness and understands the need to develop a system for providing teaching assistants in mainstream schools through the new National Strategies for Inclusive Education.
- Families of deafblind children have changed their perception and attitudes towards disabilities and now let their children interact with others and allow them to participate in inclusive school education. Parents who previously would have stayed at home to look after their children are now able to work and earn money.
- Schools have started improving their environment to accommodate children with disabilities. For example, ramps and toilets have been constructed in Kiungwe, Maweteta, Mgagao, and Majengo primary schools.