Victoria Lihiru, the founder of the foundation said the initiative among other things works to identify, empower, link, support, and advocate for the rights of People with Disabilities in colleges.
Speaking during the first conference on university girls with disabilities in Dar es Salaam at the weekend Lihiru said the project also focuses on bridging the gap between female graduates living with disabilities and potential employers in order to enhance employability in accordance with SDG Goal 8 on decent work.
According to her, the foundation intends to achieve the goal through the measurable step of having all final year university female students with disabilities at university identified, registered on an online platform, capacitated on employability skills, and connected with potential employers.
She noted that for decades PWDs faced myriad challenges such as abuse, lack of education, illiteracy, and unemployment and despite the available international law and national laws that protect their rights, the implementation of such laws is at a very low stage.
Lihiru noted that for learners with deafness, the acceptance, harmonization, recognition and usage of Tanzania sign language is still a hindrance towards improving learning outcomes. These factors keep many children with disabilities out of school and those who are lucky to receive education have to endure serious humiliation, name-calling and discrimination from their fellow students, teachers and the community in general.
“Most of our colleges and universities as well are not well equipped to provide quality education, this affects lives and performance of the students with disabilities thus going far to affect their future as well,” said Witness Raphael, a first year student at The Institute of Social Work (ISW).
Witness further said that most colleges and universities in the country lack essential infrastructure to serve students with disabilities.
She said that most of classrooms and hostels are characterized by inaccessible infrastructures, absence of assistive devices and technology, lack of appropriate and adequate learning and teaching materials and untrained and unmotivated teachers.
Meanwhile, Dr Khadija Jilala, lecturer at the Open University of Tanzania encouraged girls with disabilities to use whatever chance they get to study hard and achieve their dreams.
According to her, their disabilities should not hinder them from achieving their life goals.
“Despite my disability, I built confidence within me, studied very hard and pioneered that I will achieve all my dreams, I remember by that time, learning environment was even worse for PWDs, so as things have been somehow been improved these times, I encourage you to work on achieving the dreams you have,” she said.