Inclusive education in Tanzania: Are all learners identified and their needs known?
AbstractIt is crucial for any country to identify and assess the special needs of all children upfront, i.e. before implementing any inclusive education program, if quality and equity education is to be provided. This paper reports the findings of a study which was conducted to examine the prevalence of refractive errors and other visual problems among unidentified school children in inclusive primary schools in Tanzania. A randomly selected 565 participants from ten primary schools in three districts in Tanzania were involved in this study. The districts were Dodoma, Mvomero and Same. Two hundred and sixty four (45.8%) of the participants were males and 301 were females. An optometrist used a Snellen Eye Chart to measure visual acuity and it was found that 57 percent of pupils in Dodoma had myopia, 38 percent had hyperopia and 24 percent had astigmatism. For Mvomero District, 14 percent of the participants had myopia, 26 percent had hyperopia and 29 percent had astigmatism. Twenty nine percent of the participants in Same had myopia, 37 percent had hyperopia and 48 percent had astigmatism. Eleven percent of all the participants had other eye conditions such as cataracts and amblyopia, which could lead to visual disabilities if not identified and treated early. The results of this study indicate that although Tanzania has set about establishing inclusive schools, the special needs of all children are not known because there are no well established screening procedures at birth, before children start school, and/or during school years. Screening and assessment plans are strongly recommended, if Tanzania truly aims at providing quality and equity education for all children.
LWATI: A Journal of Contemporary Research, 9(3), 17-27, 2012