A LECTURER from the University of Worcester has been putting his expertise in teacher education to good use in Africa this summer in an attempt to get disadvantaged children back into schools.
Gareth Dart, course leader for education studies, travelled to Malawi to support and work on a project focusing on the education of students with albinism.
The project was led by Coventry University’s Dr Patricia Lund, who set it up in 2012 with funding from Sightsavers and The Albino Association of Malawi (TAAM), and invited Mr Dart out due to his previous research of the subject in Botswana.
“The project has two main aims,” Mr Dart said. “The first is to encourage children with albinism to enrol in schools, and to support their educational progress through a short message service (SMS) via their head teachers, teachers and parents.
“The second objective was to conduct face to face workshops at teacher training colleges for specialists involved in Special Education Needs (SEN), designed to integrate ways of supporting children and young people with albinism in the areas of identification, early childhood education and low vision,” he added.
Albinism is a genetic deficiency caused by a lack of the skin pigment, melanin, and is commonly misunderstood in some cultures, one of the main reasons the Worcester lecturer tried to raise awareness of the condition in the East African nation.
Mr Dart described his visit to Malawi as “very positive” and partners in the area will now maintain the scheme throughout the academic year before both he and Dr Lund return in 2014, when they also plan to adapt the project for Zambian schools.