Here's a nice article from the Tanzania Daily News pertaining to expanding services for deaf students. It's about a month old but since it's direct from Moshi, I thought it would still be relevant. Especially given that 2015 was a year filled with earwax and other various ENT shida in Msaranga. Take a look!
The sky is
the limit for everyone, including the deaf, if only they could get
essential support. Kilimanjaro is one of regions with a number of deaf
children, some of whom are yet to be identified, as some parents or
guardians tend to keep them indoors.
While guardians are
not happy to be associated with such children in public, others are not
aware that they could do extremely well in studies and later get
employment. Deafness is a situation caused by many different events including injury, disease, and genetic defects. One of causes of deafness
is exposure to loud noises. A deaf person may have mild to profound
has many causes including wax in the ear, drugs, or an infection. This
year, International Week of the Deaf came up with a theme: 'With Sign
Language Rights, Our Children Can!' In Kilimanjaro, the week was
coordinated by a local non-governmental organization - Childreach
Tanzania, bringing together the deaf community and stakeholders.
Chanyika is Childreach Program Officer for Deaf Education and
Development Program (DEDP) that has targeted to reach about 400 deaf
children and young people as well as about 200 parents and guardians in
Moshi Rural District and Moshi Urban District.
It is geared
towards breaking communication barriers through conducting sign language
trainings to teachers, pupils, and parents. He says the program covers
the deaf aged between 7 and 25 years in primary and secondary schools and colleges as well as those in society at large.
Mr. Chanyika says it
is pertinent that the deaf acquire Sign Language early in life, so that
they can improve on it and use it in study from preschool to the
highest possible level of education.
As a way to ensure
that after their studies, the deaf students can be incorporated in the
employment sector and work along with other people, Childreach has
organized apprenticeship opportunities for 16 final graduates from
Ghona Vocational Training Center for the Deaf.
Mr. Chanyika says the apprenticeships
take place soon after negotiations and the sensitization workshop in the
first and second year. They are done with business people, after having established
contacts with those who have accepted to support and offer internship
placements for deaf youths.
He notes that the
internship program is then conducted for 20 days, the main objective
being to strengthen deaf graduates' practical skills in carpentry and
tailoring. This in turn strengthens their employability skills so that after
graduation they can look for jobs in their communities.
The deaf will undoubtedly be happy afterwards as their entrepreneurial skills
are strengthened so that they can start their own business. The
apprenticeship instills business skills after they stay
in these business centers and gives them an opportunity to develop new
skills, abilities, and confidence in their jobs if secured.
Mr. Sultan Meena is
one of the deaf persons who volunteers as a sign language teacher. He is
happy with what Childreach does and wants other stakeholders to follow
suit as the NGO alone cannot accomplish everything in every area. Speaking on behalf of the deaf community, he encouraged more deaf
persons to come out so that they advocate for their rights.
He asks the
government in Kilimanjaro region to play its part in supporting the deaf
so that they overcome hurdles in life by constructing special
preschools and an extraordinary secondary school for them.
Mr. Meena says the
situation is so bad at most schools that many deaf students drop out at Form II. The issue is that Sign Language is taught at some primary
schools - with limitations - while at secondary schools it is not
taught at all. This leads to the deaf students finding it difficult to grasp
what is taught and come national examination, they fail and cannot
join Form III.
He says the basic
solution is to ensure Sign Language is introduced from a young age at the
community level, at special preschools, primary and secondary schools, and higher
learning institutions. Mr. Meena, who teaches at Msandaka Primary School,
says deaf children find it difficult to learn Sign
Language and it is not widely used at the village level. Plus, not every primary school offers the service.
"We plead for the
Education Department in the Northern Zone, Kilimanjaro Region, and Moshi
Municipality to construct preschools and at least one special secondary
school for the deaf so as to help us fight ignorance."
"The deaf are facing
so many challenges that they should not if everything is addressed
properly by the authorities," says Mr. Meena. He urges the government to
train more teachers on Sign Language as the teachers present are not
enough. He also advised other officers at health facilities, police stations,
courts of law, and district and regional offices to learn Sign Language so
that they can serve well the deaf.
Mr. Meena says the
deaf could do a lot in nation-building if they are empowered in education. This should be done by first identifying the deaf children in
society, knowing their ways of life, changing their challenges into
opportunities, and ultimately helping them attain education at the highest
of the Tanzania Deaf Association, Rev. Enock Meas, says many deaf people
are marginalized in society for failure to communicate properly and
some end up in trouble while others are denied their
rights simply because of the communication barrier.
Rev. Meas says
efforts should be put up to ensure all deaf people get formal education,
employment opportunities, and are in leadership positions as well because they are able to
perform duties just like, or even better, than those without deafness. He calls
upon religious leaders to join hands with the government in the task.
Mr. Jesh Lupembe is
a senior Moshi Municipal Council (MMC) education officer who says his
office is aware of challenges faced by the deaf. He says the municipal
council has successfully persuaded some teachers to take up special
courses in sign language at Patandi College in Arusha so as to make
certain the deaf get quality education. Mr. Lupembe says the government
always issues financial assistance to the deaf students.
respective schools to prepare a write-up on how they could establish
preschools for the deaf and his office will share the idea with other
stakeholders towards its realization.
The officer says
the plea to construct a special secondary school is a request for the municipal
council, the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, and the Prime
Minister's Office to see
how to go about it.
He, however, finds
merit in having such a school in Kilimanjaro. With all stakeholders having
one voice, it is possible that at last the deaf will get right treatment
and support. This would start with being taught sign language at a very
early age in the communities, continuing through education institutions, all offering the same sign language training, and at last getting employed by merit. In future, they
may even forget about their disability.