From the June 7th edition of The Guardian: Tanzania Lacks Special Needs Education Experts
Tanzania has only 134 special education experts distributed in several municipalities, the Parliament was told yesterday.
Out of them, seven have certificate qualifications, 51 are diploma
holders, and 76 attained a degree in special needs at the
University of Dodoma, Sebastian Kolowa Memorial University (SEKOMU), or
Patandi Teacher Training Institute.
Aggrey Mwanri, the Deputy Minister of State in the Prime Minister's
Office (Regional Administration and Local Governments), told MPs that
the government was aware of challenges in the provision of special
education and was working hard to improve the situation.
He was responding to a question from Special Seats MP Al-Shymaa Kwegyir
(CCM) who wanted the government to state the number of special education
officers in the country, following an outcry on the dire shortage.
The MP also wanted to know their level of education, if it goes with the
challenges facing students with special education, saying that special
education teachers are mostly deployed to normal schools. This leaves
special schools with serious shortage of teachers, she stated.
"Can the government tell the House if it plans to recruit more teachers
for special education in the ongoing teachers' recruitment?" she
Jennister Mhagama, the Deputy Minister for Education and Vocational
Training, responded saying the government would recruit students for
special education training.
There is a big problem in the provision of special education due to
inadequate staff in the sector but plans are underway to reduce the
problem, she said.
Another Special Seats MP, Dr. Mary Mwanjelwa (CHADEMA) said the needs and
rights of disabled children in the country are neglected in education
There are poor enrollment rates and high drop-out rates, and children and parents who are left out feel disheartened.
"Disabled children should be able to learn in regular schools, just like
others," she emphasized, maintaining that the special education system
only meets the needs of a few.
A breadth of education experts assert that special schools are
expensive to establish and run, and by segregating disabled children
they inadvertently contribute to their permanent exclusion.
Quite apart from this, the best chance a disabled child usually has for an education is through inclusion in a mainstream school.
Records of the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training show that
fewer than five percent of disabled children in Tanzania go to school.
Even if they can get there, sustaining that vital education isn't easy; inaccessible buildings, a lack of suitable teaching materials, and a
shortage of teachers make for a difficult learning environment. Especially needed are teachers who know sign language and understand
All of this is compounded by the negative attitudes of
education authorities and society in general.
"There is a growing concern on whether we care for education of people with disabilities," the MP intoned.
People feel that there have not been effective plans to ensure that
students with disabilities are given adequate support to access quality
education at all levels.