Developing “Vision-for-Learning” Competencies among Teachers in Tanzania —An Innovative Higher Education Initiative
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Original versionFelder, M., Wilhelmsen, G. B., & Schneiders, K. (2021). Developing “vision-for-learning” competencies among teachers in tanzania: An innovative higher education initiative. Creative Education, 12(1), 82–102. 10.4236/ce.2021.121007
In Tanzania, many children do not master basic reading skills even after a number of years of school. One of the causes of failure in children’s learning to read is impaired vision. Intact visual capacity is an important prerequisite for print reading as well as learning in general. However, countries that do not have mandatory vision screening for children place children at risk of their visual needs not being met. There is evidence to show that teachers can be effective vision screeners. And teachers are ideally placed to intervene with vision-guided educational practices to improve children’s reading and learning. As part of the project Securing education for children in Tanzania, we conducted a blended learning course for 30 teachers and college faculty over the course of two consecutive years, (15 each year). The course participants attended a unique 30-credit post bachelor’s degree Continuing Professional Development (CPD) course called Vision for reading and learning. This course was arranged by the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences with the Patandi Teachers’ College of Special Needs Education, Tanzania, and the University of Applied Sciences, Koblenz, Germany. Through an innovative combination of content and teaching strategies, the goals of the course were to improve knowledge and skills in the area of visual development, to learn skills of vision screening and vision intervention as well as to raise awareness about the relationship between vision and learning. The course success was evaluated on the basis of academic results at the end of the course and on a questionnaire answered by course participants about the usefulness of knowledge and skills learnt and their applicability in real life. The results showed that teachers can, with training, become successful vision screeners and interveners and that a higher education blended learning course is a potential tool for future training in this area.