Our International Programmes Manager Karen Goodman-Jones shares her impressions of enthusiastic students, thriving chickens and more, following her visit to Tanzania last month…
Here at Signal, we have supported the creation and the expansion of the first ever Vocational Training Centre for Deaf Learners (VTCD) in Tanzania – in Ghona in the Kilimanjaro Region. It is 18 months since I last had the opportunity to visit, and what a transformation!
From student numbers and buildings to poultry, farm crops and trees, everything has grown in strength, and the whole place radiates a welcoming and conducive learning environment.
There are currently 38 students at the centre with a further 15 expected to register for the start of the next academic year. Besides vocational training in tailoring, carpentry and business enterprise, the students also study a syllabus of academic subjects. These include technical drawing, engineering science, mathematics, English, Swahili, civics and life skills – mostly taught using sign language.
With such a full study programme for all, it is evident that both the quality of the teaching and the enthusiasm of the deaf students themselves are generating success.
In the centre’s first year of graduates, its students took three of the top four places in the entire Kilimanjaro Region after vocational examinations. Last year the centre beat this impressive record, with its students taking all top five places.
Congratulations to all staff and students and long may this continue!
For such a new training centre and with learners with special communication needs and challenges, this is a remarkable achievement. It more than repays the commitment and trust of our supporters and donors in the UK and beyond, who have made the opening and running of the centre possible.
Outside of their academic work, the students can now also use their purpose-built football and netball pitches alongside local young people, enabling sport to overcome communication barriers and negative perceptions about deafness.
Then there are the chickens to care for and eggs to collect.
Since the first 305 chicks were brought to the VTCD in November, students have been involved in poultry rearing, and the chickens are certainly thriving. Since the first eggs were collected in April, nearly 6,000 eggs have been sold locally – that’s over 200 per day, in addition to those eaten by students and staff as an extra source of protein.
The income from the egg sales not only pays for the chickens’ food and veterinary costs, but it also helps in keeping the students’ fees down to a level affordable for their families and contributes towards the centre’s long-term development.
It is always a good time to reflect on the generosity of our many supporters and donors who have made the VTCD a reality.
It is always a good time to thank our partners Childreach Tanzania for enabling such a project to thrive and, of course, for hosting me during my visit and giving so much of their time.