March 09, 2018

"Raising the voice of visually-impaired and blind students about access to education"

Saul Paul Mwame with blind and visually-impaired students

Saul Paul Mwame

Global Youth Ambassador from Tanzania

A Global Youth Ambassador from Tanzania tells how he has set up a foundation to create awareness about education, particularly for disabled people.

I am 18 years old. I am a youth activist and Global Youth Ambassador in Dodoma, Tanzania. I graduated from secondary school in 2017. When I was in school I was elected as the School Academic Prefect in the students' government. 

I established an organisation called Building Africa's Future Foundation whose objectives were:

  • To create awareness about the importance of education
  • To promote access to education for disabled people
  • To create awareness about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

These points aimed to promote the participation of young people in implementing the SDGs and to help make a difference in the community.

I started to follow up on the official registration of the organisation. My school was far from town, so I was required to travel to town where the government offices are located. However, my school is a boarding school and students are not allowed to leave the school until school vacations. 

I faced some challenges which I regarded as stepping stones toward my goals. I was to focus on my studies so that I would achieve good grades in my final exams. I also decided not to stop doing what I am passionate about. 

I realised that the blind students in my school seemed to have the lowest grades academically. I did some projects for the vision-impaired and blind students in my school. 

I consulted the school headmaster and the head of the vision-impaired department and they allowed me to do the project with the slogan “Disability is not an inability”. 

I started interviewing the blind students so as to know the challenges facing them. I made efforts to be part of the solution because I was confident that they could do better academically.  

I worked with the UN Swahili Radio to raise the voice of the vision-impaired/blind students about the challenges that hinder them regarding access to education. 

I made some sound recordings during the interviews and posted them to the UN Swahili Radio so that their voices could be heard globally. Mvumi School Trust is a charity organisation from the UK which supports a lot of blind students. 

They brought more Braille machines which helped the students gain access to more learning materials. I appreciated these achievements.

Saul Paul Mwame with Tanzania schoolchildren - he is working to raise awareness of the importance of education

In June 2017, I completed an online application for a speaking role for the UN General Assembly’s High Level SDGs Action Event on Education in New York. Thank God, I was among the six youth speakers who were selected out of hundreds of young people all over the world who applied for the role. It was a great achievement. 

My trip was fully funded by the United Nations. It was my first time flying on an airplane and my first time to travel outside of my country.

After travelling back to Tanzania I started cooperating with a radio station called Radio Maisha to create awareness about the SDGs and the role of education on sustainable development.

Currently I am waiting for my secondary education final exam results which will be published in February. After the results I will have to join an advanced education/high school in July. 

I have to stay at home for six months as I want to become an aerospace engineer and I have to study physics, chemistry and maths in high school. These seem to be tough subjects, so I have decided to start a pre-high school course which will end in June. 

Due to the little time I have, I will do the Building Africa's Future Initiative project within these five months.

I am confident that the initiative will be an extraordinary organisation which will really make a difference in Tanzania and Africa at large in years to come.

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