Improving access to quality education for students with hearing disabilities in Rural Tanzania
Shule Direct is bridging the educational resources divide for deaf students in Tanzania through web solutions to improve learning outcomes.
With students at Njombe School for the Deaf in Tanzania (A Secondary School that exclusively admits students with hearing disabilities) going through our Learning Management System (LMS). The LMS contains content reviewed by quality assurance experts at the Tanzania Institute of Education covering 11 Secondary School subjects. The Students Dashboard in the System is equipped with user friendly tools allowing them to also create content enhancing their digital skills and depth of subject matter.
What problem does your idea solve?
Tanzania has 1.2 Million people with hearing disabilities. There is a high dropout rate of students with hearing disabilities in Secondary Schools. Students who are not able to hear are taught alongside hearing children. Inclusivity is good but it also means that deaf students are left behind and their academic performances, 95% failure rate, prove this to be true. They have given up on schooling because it marks attendance and not learning. There are only 5 deaf people with Master's Degree.
Explain your idea
Shule Direct's Learning Management System (e-LMS) is an interactive offline version of Shule Direct’s Open Education Resource (OER) hosted at www.shuledirect.co.tz. It offers the entire Secondary School curriculum covering 11 subjects, extracurricular skills and 3 types of dashboards for the three different categories of users i.e. Administrators, Teachers and Students. Shule Direct also offers training and a best practices manual on how to use the System and effectively integrate e-learning pedagogies within their teaching environment. The System also intends to empower its users to become content creators to enhance digital literacy.
Standard Features of the LMS
• The entire Shule Direct Secondary School Curriculum covering 11 Subjects; Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography, History, Book Keeping, Commerce, English, Kiswahili and Civics
• Extra - curricular skills such as Life Skills, Academic Management and Financial Education
• Personalized User Dashboards for Administrators, Teachers and Students
• User Content Input Platforms to create, add and view; notes, tests, assignments and group activities. Shule Direct encourages Users to create their own content and share it within the school or learning center to build ICT
and content creation skills for students and teachers.
• A Teachers and Students Management platform for the Administrator
• Allows interactivity between Users on the System within the school setting
• Tracks Users progress
This is a page from the student's Dashboard in the offline Learning Management System where they can access features such as notes generated within their school, quizzes and exams from their teachers or fellow students and Shule Direct's Secondary School Curriculum covering 11 subjects reviewed by the Tanzania Institute of Education.
Imagine a 16 yr old girl who has been fortunate enough to proceed to Secondary School after all the challenges of learning while deaf in Primary School. She is in an inclusive school, she knows over 70% of children like her didn't get the chance, she is determined. But there is a problem. Her teachers are not competent to teach her in sign language, in fact sometimes they forget she is in class and talk the lesson away. With this support, we hope to reach 1550 students like her and 45 teachers.
How is your idea unique?
We never thought the Learning Management System was suited to help students with hearing disabilities until when we received a visit from officials from the University of Diak in Finland, who had done a number of interventions in the sector and thought bringing in technology based resources could further help the students. The solution is built on a holistic approach because we are considerably taking time to learn the beneficiary's context, behaviours and patterns of learning and feeding the lessons into improving the system. It is extremely simple and contextual for the local market because it is custom built from scratch to fit the learning needs within the region. Our content and methodologies have been reviewed by education experts to assure consumers of quality and relevance to learning outcomes. But we also thought of going a step ahead by not just providing educational content but also improving digital skills through practising content creation through the user friendly tools.
Tell us more about you
Shule Direct is a social enterprise that provides local, qualified and relevant digital study tools for young learners. We are working with the best teachers in Tanzania to create digitised notes, tutorials, quizzes and multimedia content and developing web and mobile solutions to deliver these to over 400,000 students. Our cloud based repository stores all the resources, with an advanced data management system and Application Programming Interface (API), which connects our web and mobile apps.
This recent interview captures one of our new developments, An Artificial Intelligence Teacher dubbed Teacher Kidevu. With our content repository covering the full Secondary School curriculum, we like to explore different ways to enrich learning experiences and provide understanding of the subject matter.
Access to quality education is of importance to us, it leads to improved learning outcomes and ultimately, unleash an individual's potential. As noted, we proudly believe in iterations.
What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?
There is a significant fear of technology among teachers which determines how they engage with the system and how students can engage with the system. The platform has been more popular with students with notably higher students' interests to learn than without the technology. We are still working on the best sustainable ways to ensure higher levels of teachers' engagement through teaching programs to enhance their teaching expertise, teaching resources and a peer to peer network of teachers in special schools for support.
We did a needs assessment baseline, now working on the findings and report so that they can feed our strategies and designs. Notably over 98% of students at Njombe School for the Deaf are interested to learn on the LMS.
Where will your idea be implemented?
Experience in Implementation Country(ies)
Yes, for more than one year.
Expertise in Sector
I've worked in a sector related to my idea for more than a year.
We are a registered for-profit company (including social enterprises).
Early Growth/Roll-out/Scaling: I have completed a pilot and am ready or in the process of expanding.