Arusha, kuule!

Improving Special Education in the Longido region

The founders of the association – Antti Komulainen and Eva Forssén – in Longido

Longido District / Engarenaibor area

Near the Kenyan border lies a cluster of small villages. This area has 8 comprehensive schools with 2400 pupils. The region has suffered from drought for almost four years. Its main income from cattle is seriously affected and the human population is undernourished. During our first visit we were informed that the schools have no children with special needs. However, it is estimated that the region has approximately 100 disabled children, but that none of them attend school.

Further research revealed that the schools lack both the know-how and equipment to provide education for the disabled. When we asked teachers whether they would like to receive further specialist training, they were most excited at the prospect. As a result, 16 teachers are now learning sign language skills. IT training will start as soon as we are able to obtain the necessary equipment and power supply to the schools.

Presentation of the students at the opening ceremony of the project

The Ngoswak School Meals Project

Ngoswak School is one of the Engarenaibor area schools. This school has appx. 400 pupils. The size of teaching units is between 60 and 90 pupils. There is no running water and sanitary conditions are very basic. No food is available for pupils during school days. This situation reflects the general lack of wellbeing within the community. The drought has driven some adults into towns and cattle has been lost.

Disabled children in Ngoswak are in the most unfavourable situation. Their daily job is to somehow find food for themselves. This prevents them from attending school, although otherwise they could well do so. The motivation to attend school is further compromised because schools have no provision of sign language for the deaf. It is difficult to learn without communication.

The principal and second teacher at the school are fully committed to receiving further training. Together we have agreed to find a speedy solution to the main problem: to obtain funding for school meals and with help from the villagers, start serving regular school meals during 2018-2019. Secondly, we will look for resources for a permanent solution (for water).

A bore hole adjacent to the school would eliminate the need for pupils to go out and fetch water daily. At the end of the school day, on their way home they would also be able to take water for the rest of the family. A bore hole would provide the school with water for cooking and growing plants. The soil in this area is quite suitable for arable use. Watering the plants should give a good yield each year, providing nutrition for the pupils also in future.

Drilling a bore hole would cost appx. 10 000 euros. The cost of school meals per pupil is around 30 euros per year. Thus, the annual cost of a year’s meals for 400 pupils is the more than the cost of a new bore hole. Read more about this campaign here: Donate a different christmas gift

Through our meals project we will gain insight into how the community embraces the opportunity to ensure that more disabled children attend school. We shall be monitoring regularly and closely the progress and real results of this project. Our goal is to improve the standard of learning and to steer the community’s attitude to become more positive towards disability.