Special and Vulnerable Groups on Access, Success and Equity on Open and Distance Education in Tanzania: The Case of The Open University of Tanzania

  • M Kitula
  • C Minanago
  • BD Mntambo
Keywords: students with disabilities, open and distance learning, information and communication technology, access, equity and success, The Open University of Tanzania

Abstract

Open and Distance Learning (ODL) assisted by the use of ICT, has proven to create significant opportunities for potential learners especially people with special needs including those living with disabilities and inmates to access higher education. ODL as a mode of instruction with the use of ICT can promote access to higher education for people with disabilities and those with special needs (the inmates). The concern is on whether the people living with disabilities and those with special needs have full access, success and equity to higher education despite the existing potentials for education. The use of ODL in higher learning institutions assisted by ICT proves to have a number of challenges especially when students with disabilities are involved in accessing and utilizing ICT, in particular the assistive technology like text-to-speech software, alternative keyboards and mice, and specialized software for students with learning disabilities. In-depth interviews were conducted to both students, academic and non academic staff from four OUT regional centres namely Kinondoni, Ilala, Morogoro and Iringa. Findings indicated that, there are various challenges in accessing education through ODL and related ICT facility due to high cost implications related to the establishment of assistive infrastructure for the students with disabilities for individual institutions to undertake; Inadequacy of personnel and especially academic staff trained to attend such students; lack of text-to-speech software, alternative keyboards and mice, and specialized software for the students; Inadequate funds to lay down the required infrastructure and related equipment. It is recommended the government and generous institutions to mobilize resources to fund the establishment of the infrastructure and purchase the related equipment to enable ODL with the use of ICT to effectively provide the education required by PLW and inmates as a human right to all. ODL through ICT can reach the unreachable in the remote areas for PLW including jails

Key Words: students with disabilities, open and distance learning, information and communication technology, access, equity and success, The Open University of Tanzania

Published
2014-12-15
Section
Articles

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eISSN: 0856-6739