Some good news this week out of the Research and Development side of The Toa Nafasi Project. We have recently learned that the first article about the Project written by Dr. Angela Stone-MacDonald will be published this December in the DADD Online Journal, a new yearly publication from the Division of Autism and Developmental Disabilities of the Council for Exceptional Children.
It is a comparative piece looking at the use of language and terminology from both
her dissertation research conducted in Lushoto in 2009 and her work with Toa Nafasi in Moshi from 2012 to the present.
Angi considers that what the Project does for students in working with Tanzanian teaching staff as the lead and not explicitly conveying to the parents that their child might have a "disability" is the best move given the conservative nature of Tanzanian culture.
Her reasoning? If we start talking about the children in terms of disability and
we distinguish "disability" from "disease," are we setting them up for
discrimination in a system where they are currently viewed as lazy as opposed
to being somehow aberrant?
Students who have gone through the Toa Nafasi protocol have overcome the labels of "lazy" and "stupid," but can they
overcome a label of disabled in this culture?
We want all young children to start school from a position of strength and build on his/her
capabilities. The capability approach supports the holistic view of the
child and the growth of that child's knowledge, skills, and innate talents.
Please check out Angi's latest output for the Project: graphs of the progress of the 2014 cohort at six months and after one year of services. Methinks that despite the cultural issues attendant with addressing disability, the actual improvement the kids are making is extraordinary - I hope you agree!