Tanzania Special Education Platform in Top African Innovation Awards

Dar es Salaam — A web-based platform dubbedJumuisha that seeks to empower experts handling people with disabilities in communities, was featured among top eleven education innovations in Africa.

Jumuisha is a Kiswahili word meaning "to include," used to describe the platform that brings together disability experts from universities, colleges, NGOs and government institutions so that they can share their experiences on disability inclusion.

The project is a brain-child of a 30-year old Tanzanian innovator Mr Goodluck Chanyika who currently resides in Moshi District, Kilimanjaro Region.

Last month, it was showcased during the Second African Union Innovating Education Expo in Botswana, themed: "Harnessing the Capacity of ICT to ensure Inclusion, Quality and Impact in Education and Training in Africa."

Mr Chanyika, who won Sh11mllion for the project, believes that most people do not have access to knowledge and experience on how best to promote the inclusion of people and children with disabilities into daily programs and activities.

"Through the award money that was given to me by the African Union I am now looking forward to expanding the platform, improve on its user security and build a bigger network of experts," he told The Citizen.

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The idea to develop the platform stemmed from Mr Chanyika's work experience. "While working as the Project Officer for the Deaf Education and Development Program with Childreach Tanzania (2014-2017), I had an idea to Advance Special Education Teachers' Knowledge on Inclusive Education using ICT," he says.

In Tanzania, it is estimated less than 1 per cent of teachers have any knowledge of special educational needs. The teachers lack pedagogical skills and knowledge involved in inclusive teaching and learning processes.

More still needs to be done in improving the curricula which are currently not designed in line with the principles and practice of inclusive education.

Mr Chanyika says his idea to improve the situation began gaining more acceptance among stakeholders when he submitted it as an application for the Americans with Disabilities Act International Fellowship Program on Inclusive Education in the United States at the University of South Dakota.

Since then, he hasn't looked back. While in Gaborone recently, he took part in the Expo that showcased ICT based innovative education solutions from across the continent for possible support including further development and replication.

"I want to take it further than what it is now," he says, recalling how he has been able to interact and bring more people on board in the days after he was awarded at the African Union in event in Botswana; that brought together 450 participants from over forty countries.

Member countries were represented by Ministers responsible for Education: Ethiopia, Ghana, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe; while others were represented by senior officials responsible for education: Angola; Benin; Chad, Comoros, the Gambia, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa.

Zanzibar's Deputy Minister of Education and Vocational Training Mr Simai Mohammed Said told The Citizen that such awards are an opportunity for Tanzanians to innovate and serve communities.

"Goodluck should now become the Ambassador of the Young Innovators so that others can apply and learn more of it," said Mr Simai during an interview.

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