Education is a human right, but one that is frequently denied for people with disabilities, especially in low-income countries. According to UNICEF’s Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children, an estimated 90 percent of children with disabilities in developing countries do not go to school.  Furthermore, according to the UN Girls’ Education Initiative, the literacy rate for adults with disabilities is 3 percent, and for women with disabilities it is 1 percent.  These numbers highlight the critical need for education for the children and youth with disabilities supported by BCC in Tanzania.
BCC has established a partnership with Jaffery Academy, specifically Jaffery Academy’s Special Education Needs department, in order to meet this critical need and to share areas of expertise in disability service provision in Tanzania. We have a common mission of empowering people with disabilities in Tanzania. Jaffery Academy operates in a city called Arusha and specializes in educating students with intellectual disabilities, and this month 13 BCC staff traveled to Jaffery Academy for a week-long intensive training on teaching students with intellectual disabilities. The training included topics such as creating IEPs, planning lessons, teaching life skills, and effectively managing a classroom.
Three groups of BCC staff attended the training, with either four or five participants attending each week in order to ensure individual attention and growth. Each morning, BCC staff each sat in a classroom at Jaffery to observe the strategies and techniques utilized by the teacher during class. In the afternoon, Jaffery teachers facilitated trainings for BCC staff. On Tuesday afternoon, BCC staff learned about why lesson plans are important and how to create them, and on Wednesday morning each BCC staff member taught a prepared lesson plan in the classroom.
A highlight of the training happened on the last day: making play-doh. Not only was this a fun way to end a week of intensive training, but it is also very important in a setting where resources can be difficult to find and expensive. Creating low-cost educational resources with local materials is essential to the success of education in our centers.
Sister Woinde, BCC’s occupational therapist, attended the training this week and told me, “For our clients, they’ll get high quality services because their teacher knows more about how to work with them. The staff are eager to go back to Moshi and make changes…they are waiting for the time to go back and share what they heave learned.”
I have already seen BCC staff implementing the skills they have learned. I saw it when Jaffery teachers and I visited BCC centers and staff showed us the lesson plans they had prepared for the day. I saw it when we visited our Majengo 2 center and watched Devota, the center in charge, teach a classroom of children about different fruits and pass a papaya around the room for all of them to touch. I saw it when Victoria, our Young Adult Coordinator, came into the office the Monday after returning from training excited to begin incorporating elements into our young adult vocational training program.
The teachers from Jaffery have several trips planned to Moshi to visit BCC centers, assist staff to implement what they have learned, and recognize the amazing work they are doing each and every day.
We are honored to work with the teachers from Jaffery Academy and we look forward to strengthening and expanding our partnership in order to improve services for people with disabilities in our communities.
By Alex Bailey