Bijal Lal is a special educator and the founder of Tujumuishe Tanzania, an organization that promotes inclusive employment, youth transition, and inclusive education in Tanzanian communities and schools. Formerly a Special Needs Teacher and Transition Expert at the Almuntazir Special Education Needs School (AMSEN) in Dar es Salaam, Bijal is an expert on independent living and transition issues, and trains other teachers who support adolescents and young adults with disabilities, helping them guide youth toward securing employment and attaining personal independence.
Bijal is a champion for both inclusive education and employment, having helped pioneer new inclusive programs at AMSEN School that enabled many Tanzanian students with disabilities to enter higher mainstream inclusive classes for their first time. She has also developed training initiatives that build the professional skills of Tanzanian teachers who work with students and young adults with disabilities. Outside of the classroom, she is a vocal advocate for advancing inclusion and improving disability awareness at the community and family levels. She pursues these goals via the organization she founded, Tujumuishe Tanzania (which means “Let’s Be Inclusive, Tanzania” in Swahili).
As a Professional Fellow, Bijal developed a project that created a virtual training program between Tanzanian special education teachers at AMSEN School and disability specialists at her U.S. Fellowship host site, the Ohio State University Nisonger Center. She was mentored by Dr. Margo Izzo, the center’s Transition Services Director.
The program uses the ECHO model, a system for developing remote trainings for education and health professionals, and enables teachers in Tanzania to learn best practices from the U.S. online. The program also allows U.S. university faculty to exchange case studies and bolster their international experience by consulting informally with teachers, service providers, and families of youth with disabilities in East Africa. The program also gives Ohio State University trainees on disability studies an opportunity to learn directly from disability practitioners in Tanzania and observe how needs are addressed in different contexts.
Read more about Bijal’s work here.