Tanzania has a population of 46 million with an estimated 18,400 people with deafblindness.
Families are often large, many live in poverty and the demands of caring for a child with deafblindness can be overwhelming. They are often ostracised and without support from Sense International, many children with deafblindness will die before the age of five.
Sense International Tanzania started work in 2006. There are now ten schools in the country which have specialist units for children with deafblindness, which we have supported with training, assessments, learning materials and by developing a standardised curriculum.
From 2014 we started home based education and reached 163 children with deafblindness/MSI, out of which we are currently selecting a total of 100 children for inclusion in mainstream education with the support of Teaching Assistants.
At the same time we are working closely with the government to develop a cadre of Teaching Assistants to support learners with more complex disabilities. Parents have established an association that spearheads advocacy to raise the profile of deafblindness/MSI in Tanzania.
Presently we are supporting 18 youth with deafblindness/MSI to establish vocational activities at their homes to increase household income and engage the youth in economic production.
“Chausika had a tough start to life – the fifth of seven children. She couldn’t communicate, walk or look after herself. Now she interacts happily with her brothers and sisters, can feed herself and is learning daily living skills.”
Watch our subtitled video that briefly outlines the work we do in East Africa.
We work with government and education institutions to improve people with deafblindness / MSI access to appropriate education. We have:
- Established seven new special education units in Tanzania since 2008 in addition to the three which existed.
- Trained 138 mainstream teachers, 20 house carers and 14 school inspectors; and developed learning materials for use in the ten schools.
- We helped the Tanzania Institute of Education to develop a standardised curriculum for children with deafblindness.
- Supported the enrollment of 80 children with deafblindness/MSI, with an aim to reach the target of 100, in inclusive classrooms, in mainstream school with the support of Teaching Assistants. We have trained 80 Teching Assistants to work in classrooms and developed teaching guidelines for the training of Teaching Assistants.
- We have supported 163 children with community-based rehabilitation in their homes, training 23 community workers from local partners to deliver these services. The parents of all of these children have been provided with a tablet containing videos of techniques to teach their children with deafblindness/MSI in the areas of communication, activities of daily living and orientation and mobility.
- We aim to transform ten deafblind education centres into Regional Deafblind Resource Centres. These will provide specialist assessments for all people with deafblindness and offer community-based education services in partnership with government - whilst continuing to provide a quality education for pupils at the centres.
- We are supporting Patandi Teachers Training College to develop a Special Needs Teacher Training course in deafblindness to ensure that teachers can learn the specialised skills needed to educate children with deafblindness whether at home or in the classroom.
Campaigning and advocacy
We work closely with the government and Ministries of Health and Education to develop appropriate services for people with deafblindness.
- We have supported families to set up The Tanzanian Association of Parents with Deafblind Children, which runs training programmes for 99 members that teach communication, advocacy and leadership skills.
- We are lobbying the Government to provide teacher aides so that all deafblind pupils can receive one-to-one help.
- We are campaigning for the government of Uganda to immunise against rubella – which causes thousands of children to be born deafblind when their mothers catch this during pregnancy.
- We raise awareness of deafblindness by using newspapers, radio and television and encouraging families to participate in national events.
- We educate people about deafblindness in rural villages, working with women’s groups, village elders and other community groups.
Sense International Tanzania is working to improve the quality of life of 18 youth with deafblindness/MSI by supporting them to implement livelihood activities of their choice, including assisting them to develop business plans, providing start-up kits and assistive devices. Their families are also empowered to provide support to their children. Sense International Tanzania provides the parents with training and support to strengthen their role in advocacy for the education and specialised health services that their children with deafblindness/MSI need. To date we have:
- Supported 18 youth with deafblindness/MSI (7 females and 11 males), to develop business plans.
- Provided each of the 18 youth with deafblindness/MSI with start-up capital for their micro-businesses.
- Trained 18 parents on how to support their youth with deafblindness/MSI with their micro-businesses.
- Provided assistive devices to 13 youth with deafblindness/MSI.
- Work with the 18 youth with deafblindness/MSI to formalise their youth group as an association of people with deafblindness/MSI.
We have supported parents of children with deafblindness/MSI to set up the Association of Parents of Children with Complex Disabilities and we strengthened the capacity of the Tanzania Association of Parents with Deafblind Children to monitor the livelihood activities undertaken by their youth with deafblindness/MSI. We run training programmes for parents of children with deafblindness/MSI in which we focus on building their skills in communication, advocacy and leadership, financial management, good governance and child protection.
We support awareness raising campaigns, using local media, and encourage families to participate in national events that will increase the profile of people with deafblindness/MSI. In addition, through our school and community-based work, we educate people about deafblindness/MSI. We have raised awareness of the public through printed media, radio and television.
- Looking to develop a Screening and Early Intervention programme in partnership with health facilities in order to identify children with deafblindness/MSI early so they are given the best possible start in life.
- Further roll-out and strengthening of the livelihood project for youth with deafblindness/MSI.
- Provide support to strengthen the Tanzanian Association for Deafblind People.
- We will to continue to raise awareness of deafblindness/MSI, ensuring that people’s rights are protected under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, so that no one is discriminated against.
Sense International (EA) Tanzania
Msasani 93, Block A, Dar es Salaam.
Opposite Oysterbay Police Station.
Tel/Fax: +255 22 246 1482
First published: Thursday 27 June 2013
Last updated: Monday 15 January 2018