Speaking at the weekend in Dar es Salaam during the marking of World Autism Day, association vice chairman Adelhard Kweyamba said people with Autism in the country faced a lot of challenges, including lack of a local education curriculum.
The event was sponsored by Lions Club of Mzizima and was attended by top government officials who included Beatrice Fungamo, the assistant commissioner for Social Welfare in the Ministry of Health, Social Welfare, Gender, Elderly and Children.
As a result, he said, all Autistic people in the county were forced to learn using foreign curriculums, a situation which he said was not good.“We have only eight government and eight private schools in the country which provide education to people with autism.
The numbers are not good…we ask the government to increase the number of schools so that our children can learn and in future be responsible citizens. The number of teachers’ colleges which offer special needs education should increase as currently there are only two,” he said.
He also lamented over lack of awareness by some parents who lock up their autistic children in rooms, believing they cannot improve.“In recent years there have been cases of some parents and guardians locking up children with autism. This is common because people do not know that having autism is not the end of the world…we have more evidence that people with autism improve with age, ” he said.
The NAPAT vice chairman also disclosed that a good Samaritan donated two plots for construction of a college for people with autism, saying this would help to provide good education to autistic people.
He, however, asked the government to support them so that they can realize their dream of having a college. At the same function, Tanzania Education Authority (TEA) official Joel Laurent confessed that his authority created curriculums for people with special needs except for those with autism.
He informed the gathering that TEA would work with NAPAT to come up with a curriculum which can cater for people with autism.
“ Autism is not very known in the country…as Tanzania Education Authority (TEA) we have been helping people with special needs, but I must confess that we have not helped those with Autism.
However, from today I promise to start working with NAPAT to find out how we can come up with a curriculum. Today TEA is donating 5m/- to Msimbazi Mseto so that they can buy some of the needs for the school,” he said.
In her remarks, Fungamo who represented the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Office responsible for people with disabilities, Dr Abdallah Possi, gave assurance of the government’s support.
She said the government was aware of the challenges people with autism, especially those in rural areas, faced. She added that soon they will embark on awareness campaigns in the country to ensure that people know the rights of people with autism.
“I must thank Lions Club of Mzizima for sponsoring this event…as the government, we are fully aware of all the challenges people with autism face; the main one being that people with this problem do not enjoy some of their basic rights. As the government, we will soon start sensitizing people on the rights of people with autism,” she said.