A new social enterprise programme designed to help children with hearing impairment to realise their full potential through digital technologies has been launched in Mukamira Sector, Nyabihu District, Western Province.
The programme, named ‘Empowering Children with Disabilities (ECD), was initiated by Tigo Digital Changemaker Louis Ngabonziza, an educator who has been working with deaf children and youth in Rwanda for the past 20 years.
In 2015, Ngabonziza won the Tigo Digital Changemakers competition, an annual innovation competition organised by Tigo Rwanda in partnership with Reach for Change.
His winning proposal was to use digital technologies to provide hearing-impaired children with the skills they need to find employment and to be competitive in an increasingly digital job market.
The ‘Empowering Children with Disabilities’ programmme will provide the students with a comprehensive ICT course that will include basic word processing skills, internet research, social media and computer maintenance.
Speaking at the official launch, Ngabonziza said, “I started this project with the aim of helping impaired children to have access to ICT facilities”.
“Technology has become an important part of our everyday life and I had to find a way to extend such benefits to children with disabilities. The launch is an opportunity to raise awareness among the decision makers and the community about the plight of the deaf and how best to give educational opportunities to children with hearing impairment.”
Commenting on the programme launch, Tigo CEO, Tongai Maramba said, “The Tigo Digital Changemakers competition is about finding and supporting digital solutions that can improve society. As a digital lifestyle brand we encourage technology driven ideas that bring sustainable change. We are therefore proud to be supporting Louis Ngabonziza.”
Empowering Children with Disabilities provides inclusive education for 131 children with hearing impairments through formal education in public schools, sign language instruction, technology and vocational skills.
Students in the programme have access to a computer lab, smart phones and regular ICT courses; all made possible through funding provided through the Tigo Digital Changemakers programme.
Lauding the programme, Simon Mutwarangabo Nyabihu District Director of the Social Development Unit pledged support to the school.
Since 2012, seven Changemakers have been supported by the programme and have impacted the lives of over 46,000 Rwanda children, according to Tigo officials.
The yearly competition aims at identifying and supporting social entrepreneurs with digital tools and technology to improve communities and future generations.
Every year, two best proposals receive a cash prize of up to Rwf14 million each and access to a Reach for Change incubator, business training and a global network of other social entrepreneurs
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