Advancing Children With Special Needs

In Tanzania there are few educational opportunities available for children with disabilities. Many of these children are hidden at home or have been abandoned and live on the streets because of the stigma of disability. In 2001 a teaching specialist named Loitushui Yamat sought to change that by starting a Special Needs Education Unit at the Ilboru School in Arusha, northern Tanzania.

Ilboru provides primary school classes up to Standard 7 (the equivalent of U.S. 7th grade) for students with intellectual and physical disabilities. In addition to regular classes, students are provided with morning snacks and have time to play sports, which help enhance brain development, balance, and coordination. Older students have the opportunity to learn life skills such as sewing, which will also help them to develop careers after school.

Parents are encouraged to take part in their children’s education on Parent Days where they can learn about their child’s progress and gain greater knowledge about their child’s specific disability. Teachers at Ilboru also make home visits to assess children’s behavior and living conditions.

Operation Bootstrap Africa has worked with the Ilboru Special Needs Education Unit for over a decade. During that time we have provided a number of classrooms, including ones specially designed for sensory needs, as well as dormitories for students who are unable to safely walk to school each day. We also help teachers at Ilboru access continuing education on special needs, and classroom and assessment materials. We are proud to partner with the Ilboru Special Needs Education Unit to give Tanzanian children with disabilities dignity and hope for the future.