The University of Dar es Salaam has pledged its commitment to intensify its efforts in delivering quality education to students with special needs for attaining a society that embraces inclusivity and equal opportunities for all.
Speaking when officiating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities held at Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Mlimani Campus recently, UDSM Vice Chancellor Professor William A. L. Anangisye said the University has established the Centre for Disability Services (CDS) as the driving force that positioned UDSM as the premier university for students with special needs.
“Addressing the challenges faced by these students is crucial, and we pledge to intensify the university's efforts in delivering quality education to them”, said Prof. Anangisye.
Prof. Anangisye pointed out UDSM noteworthy achievements in offering education to people with disability including the fact that approximately 621 students had benefited from educational services offered at the University starting from the academic year 1978/1979 to present.
He also explained that the University understood the concern about the limited enrollment of students with special needs in postgraduate programmes and it was committed to exploring avenues to increase opportunities for them.
The event, which was expertly organised by the Centre for Disability Services (CDS), was held at the Library Auditorium on 1st December 2023 with a focus on emphasising society's shared responsibility in nurturing an inclusive environment for individuals with disabilities. The event theme was "Empowering Persons with Disabilities to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals Starts with Me”.
Meanwhile, CDS Manager, Dr. Sarah Kisanga, delivered a keynote address that contextualised the global recognition of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities that was initiated by the United Nations in 1992.
“This year's global theme: ‘United in action to rescue and achieve the SDGs for, with, and by persons with disabilities’ resonates with UDSM’s commitment to inclusivity”, said Dr. Kisanga.
Inclusive and suitable environment available
Dr. Kisanga commended the university's commitment on assisting students with disability to undertake their studies at UDSM given the inclusive and suitable environment available for them.
“UDSM has been expanding the Centre for Disability Services since its inception in 1978 and, recently, it was elevated to an independent entity within the university. The center consists of three units catering to visual impairments, hearing impairments, and physical disabilities”, said Dr. Kisanga.
She further said that CDS offers services such as accommodation arrangements, sign language interpretation, creation of accessible teaching materials, as well as planning and advising on both infrastructures and policies that fits the needs.
Dr. Lukas Kija, Chairman of the Advisory Council for People with Disabilities commended the university's commitment on offering education services to students with disability.
“UDSM has demonstrated its dedication to inclusivity and that its ongoing efforts to enhance services for individuals with special needs, reinforce the university's commitment to a more inclusive and equitable educational landscape”, he said.
Ms. Aneth Gerana, Chief Development Officer from the Institute of Social Welfare, expressed her appreciation to UDSM for assisting her during studies. “I applaud UDSM for taking care of me while doing my university studies, and building confidence in me which has brought me to where I am today. I am very proud to be part of these celebrations.”