ESCCOM donates specialised equipment for three UNESWA visually impaired students

KWALUSENI – This morning, Monday 19.06.2023 at the Main Conference Room, Kwaluseni Campus, ESCCOM through the Chief Executive Officer, Mr Mvilawemphi Dlamini donated specialised laptops to three visually impaired students of the University of Eswatini, Institute of Distance Education (IDE).  The three students are Mr Bongani  Makama, Ms Nothando Tsabedze and Mr Veli Vilakati who are pursuing the Certificate in Psychosocial Support programme.  The donation ceremony was officiated by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Justice Thwala.

In making remarks about the background of the donation, Professor Cosmas Maphosa, Director – IDE mentioned that for the first time in its history, IDE enrolled four special students with visual impairments.  Ever since enrolling them, the Institute has been trying to assist the students and requested the University Management to offer contracts to specialists who would convert the learning material to braille.  The contracted Specialists were Mr J.S. Mzileni and Ms Thabsile Simelane.  The Institute further talked to Dr Andile Matfula, then Head of Computer Science Department and Ms C. Nxumalo Senior Inspector for Special Education. It was through the discussions with the two that a proposal was written to ESCCOM requesting for special laptops for the students.  In the past, ESCCOM had assisted the Institute with laptops.  The Institute is grateful to the assistance received from ESCCOM as it would help in the learning and assessment processes.  The Director noted that UNESWA was lagging behind as far as enrolling students with special needs and challenged the University to establish a Disability Centre so that many students with special needs can be assisted.  That would go a long way in achieving inclusivity in higher education.

In his handover speech, the CEO of ESCCOM, Mr Mvilawemphi Dlamini mentioned that it was a step in the right direction for the University to enrol students with special needs. The SDGS state that need for inclusivity in achieving them.  ESCCOM aims at universal access in as far as connectivity is concerned. ESCCOM is happy to be of assistance to the students and hope this will enhance their journey in attaining education.  He appealed to the students to take good care of the devices.

Ms Cebsile Nxumalo, Senior Inspector – Special Education Unit in the Ministry of education and Training mentioned that as a unit they have a very fruitful partnership with ESCCOM as the Commission supports students at all levels.  She mentioned that the students had been using special equipment up to high school and mentioned that the laptops from ESCCOM will be fitted with specialised software to assist them in their learning.  On behalf the Unit, she pledged support to institutions of higher learning in as far as special needs students are concerned.  She also wished the students well in their studies.

Mr Bongani Makama on behalf of the students and the Federation of the Disabled in Swaziland (FODSWA) thanked ESCCOM, Eswatini Government and the University for the gadgets.  He mentioned that although the University was using Moodle Learning Management System, they were not able to use it fully.

Making the concluding remarks was the Registrar, Dr Salebona Simelane who passed a vote of thanks to ESCCOM and all those who put the proposal together for the donation to be a success.  He thanked the students for not shying away from enrolling at the University and mentioned that the University will be on the look out to admit more students with special need.  He further thanked all that had attended the Ceremony.