9 October 2012

Tanzania: Education Plea for the Disabled

SPECIAL Seats Member of Parliament, Mrs Alshaymaa Kwegyir, has said that educating people with disabilities in the country is a viable investment that will help in national development.

Mrs Kwegyir made the comments when closing a 14-day assistive technology training for people with visual impairment at the Open University of Tanzania (OUT) that was sponsored by Sightsavers Tanzania.

She said that providing people with disabilities proper education will make them independent and be able to support themselves and their families.

"By giving people with disabilities handouts it only makes them dependent and appear like a burden to society but if we invest in educating them then we will be making progress in efforts to bring development to our country," she said.

Speaking at the same occasion, Sightsavers Tanzania Project Manager, Mr Enock Mangasini, said that the training this year follows a similar session last year where 15 people with visual impairment were trained on how to use Information and Communication Technology (ICT) assistive technology.

He said that it is heartening to see that this year 27 people were able to receive the training, noting that even more promising is the fact the trainers this year were those who themselves graduated in last year's training.

"This is promising and we hope that those who benefitted from this year's programme will go and spread the knowledge acquired far and wide," he said. Mr Mangasini was speaking on behalf of Sightsavers Tanzania Director, Dr Ibrahim Kabole.

Sightsavers plans to train between 200 and 300 people with visual disabilities to be able use computers in the next four years. The not-for-profit organisation has pledged to continue supporting people with visual impairmant by financing and providing equipment for three resource centers at Makalala Primary School in Mafinga, Iringa region, OUT and Tanzania League for the Blind (TLB) premises.

Graduates of the training programme were also handed with laptops fitted with assistive technology that best suit their needs as people with visual impairment. Sightsavers promised to continue supporting similar training and called for other stakeholders to support the initiative.

OUT Vice Chancellor, Prof Tolly Mbwette, said that the training and that of last year have been an eye opener to many individuals that ICT is possible for visually impaired individuals. "I am calling upon both national and international organisations to facilitate training like this one.

"Training like this have far reaching implications as they keep disability and persons with disabilities high on the agenda," he said.

In a speech read on his behalf by the OUT Deputy Vice Chancellor (Personnel), Prof Martin Victor, said such training helps society widen knowledge and understanding of disabilities and persons with disabilities in both training and using ICT services as well as get rid of stigmatization and negative attitudes towards people with disabilities. The training was also supported by Tanzania Education Authority, OUT, TLB and Freedom Electronics dealers of Samsung products in the country.

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