Goodluck Charles Chanyika
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In Tanzania; continuous staff development programs are not offered to special education teachers, there are shortages in special needs and inclusive education teacher training – the capacity institutions is low in relation to current needs. It is estimated less than 1% of teachers have any knowledge of special educational needs even these teachers lack pedagogical skills and knowledge involved in inclusive teaching and learning processes. The curricula are not designed in line with the principles and practice of inclusive education. Teacher education strongly emphasizes in general teaching.
ASET-KIE (Advancing Special Education Teachers’ Knowledge on Inclusive Education) under JUMUISHA TANZANIA INITIATIVE ( www.jumuisha.co.tz ), Jumuisha is Swahili word meaning “to include” hence inclusion. This comes as an online library and innovative learning network to support Continuous Staff Development programs among teachers in Tanzania, so they continue to learn even after they graduate and go into a teaching career. The platform has four types of disabilities – hearing impairment, visual impairment, physical impairment and intellectual impairment. For each type of disability, there are categories (teachers, parents, government workers and NGO staff). Under each category there are sets of questions based on their field of expertise, these are being classified as “Do you know” Questions which are in Swahili and English. For example, a teacher can click on the Hearing Impairment, and choose a question; Do you know how to instruct deaf students in a laboratory setting? Once he/she has clicked the question, it will open a PDF with details and things to do while instructing deaf students in an inclusive laboratory setting. If the teacher feels the materials are not enough then they can write to the Jumuisha team on their experience in instructing deaf students in the laboratory, these will be evaluated and later be uploaded on the website. Basically, these will act as best practices from teachers across the country whereby other teachers can learn and apply the same in the classroom.
In 2018, the idea was selected for presentation at the 6th Annual African Disability Rights Conference on Inclusive Education in South Africa. This innovation can be upscaled and sustained by having the materials in a variety of languages – to suit the country’s population, by having volunteers to transcribe materials for the platform, involving the government education departments, advertise the innovation and seek support from stakeholders, encourage teachers, student teachers and university departments to interact and use the platform.