Lukiza Autism Foundation has won a grant with INTERNEWS ORGANISATION Regional Disability Project called: “Changing the Narrative: Including the Voices and Participation of Persons with Disabilities to Improve Media Coverage of Disability Issues in Sub-Saharan Africa”.
This is a three months project. The project is on educating the Tanzanian society using traditional media and social media on the significance of inclusive education, by highlighting current success stories, challenges faced and working sessions on what’s required to make inclusive education a success across the board; with emphasise on the non-visible disabilities inclusion such as Autism.
WHAT IS AUTISM?
Autism (Usonji in Swahili) is a complex neuro-behavioral condition that includes impairments in social interaction and developmental language and communication skills combined with rigid, repetitive behaviours. Because of the range of symptoms and variable severity, the condition is now called Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It covers a large spectrum of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairment. ASD ranges in severity from a handicap that somewhat limits an otherwise normal life to a devastating disability that may require institutional care. Children with Autism have trouble communicating, they have trouble understanding what other people think and feel. This makes it very hard for them to express themselves either with words or through gestures, facial expressions, and touch. A child with ASD who is very sensitive and may be greatly troubled, sometimes even pained by sounds, touches, smells or sights that seem normal to others.
RATIONALE FOR THE PROJECT
Due to these challenges, especially behavioural issues and lack of communicative language for most children and youth with Autism, it’s becoming a challenge for students with Autism to be accepted in main stream schools while there is shortage of primary schools and lack of secondary and vocational schools that cater for their specific needs, hence Lukiza Autism Foundation is on a mission to advocate for their right for education.
- Increased number of inclusive education schools which teach according to the needs and capabilities of each learner, hence higher numbers of students with special needs will be enrolled in schools
- Increased inclusive education awareness from the general public and key stakeholders in education, such as the government, ministry of education, special needs and vocational school section, TAMISEMI, the Prime Minister office, schools, parents of both neuro-typical and special needs students; There will be an increased awareness on what inclusive education entails, its importance and its benefits. A shift from special needs education to inclusive education.
- Decreased level of stigma and discrimination; in some areas, the stigma associated with people with disabilities especially non-visible disabilities like Autism will be completely gone.
- Better relationships will be built between students with special needs and those without disabilities
- The strengthening of cooperation between special education teachers, regular teachers and school leadership will enable students with disabilities to participate in all school activities inside and outside the classroom hence add value to their learnings and develop self-independent
- Traditional media and social media will be better informed on inclusive education, what it entails, the success stories, what’s required to make it work and challenges faced hence report back facts regarding inclusive education
Internews Organisation Website: https://internews.org/