Students at the Vocational Training Centre for Deaf Learners in Tanzania have successfully completed the first phase of internships in a programme to provide practical experience in the workplace. Signal and its partner Childreach Tanzania are running this programme with the support of The Marr-Munning Trust.
Ten second- and third-year students at the Vocational Training Centre in the Kilimanjaro Region carried out four-week internships in tailoring and carpentry with local businesses. These deaf young people were mentored and helped to develop their knowledge, skills and confidence.
The tailoring students developed their skills in taking measurements, cutting fabric according to the design and stitching, as well as getting the chance to make garments and accessories in new, fashionable styles.
The carpentry students developed their skills in measuring, drawing plans and making different types of joint. They got the chance to learn about and make new designs of household and office furniture and use new types of machinery. All of the students were also able to gain valuable knowledge of customer service.
As part of the internship programme, supervisors and employees from the businesses hosting the students took part in deaf awareness and inclusive communication training. Both supervisors and students reported each other’s willingness to teach and learn and overcome communication challenges, with supervisors learning some signs in Tanzanian Sign Language and using some pictorial and written illustrations.
This mutual enthusiasm translated into host businesses inviting all of the tailoring and carpentry students to take up additional hands-on placements on Fridays and Saturdays over another four-week period. The garments, accessories and furniture that the students produced during their time with the local businesses were showcased at an exhibition at the Vocational Training Centre. This was visited by the district education officer and other local officials, teachers from neighbouring schools and the students’ families.
Encouragingly, one of the interns, a third- and final-year carpentry student, was offered and has accepted a job with one of the carpentry workshops which is participating in the internship programme. All of the participating businesses have been awarded with certificates of recognition and are keen to stay involved.
These businesses are helping to change negative assumptions about deaf people and build a positive understanding of deafness and disability among their customers and surrounding businesses.
Headline photograph: tailoring interns modelling their designs.