Promoting Inclusive Education in Northern Uganda
Since 2013 we have been implementing a three-year project to improve disabled children’s access to and success in primary school in Northern Uganda, in partnership with AbleChild Africa. This region has very high levels of poverty. This holistic project is addressing impairment, alongside environmental, institutional and attitudinal barriers to inclusion.
Numbers of children enrolling in primary school in Uganda have increased significantly, in line with MDG2 – Achieving Universal Primary Education. However, this has come at the cost of quality education. Overcrowded classrooms and untrained teachers result in high drop out rates – 25% – 30% of pupils drop out during their first year (UNESCO, 2010). Vulnerable groups – such as disabled students – are disproportionately effected. They drop out even earlier or fail to enrol at all.
What are we doing?
This programme uses our innovative Child to Child approach to empower children to become powerful agents of change in their communities. Children identify and engage out-of-school disabled children in their communities, identify barriers to their exclusion, and work with schools and communities to ensure they access and stay at school.
Our local implementing partner Uganda Society for Disabled Children (USDC) has been developing the capacity of Parent Support Groups (PSGs). It is also working with families, teachers and communities to lobby government and advocate for inclusive education to be prioritised and mainstreamed across national primary education services.
What have we achieved so far?
This is due to teachers using participatory Child to Child approaches to support the learning of their pupils. Teachers are reporting an increased sense of agency and improved motivation to adapt classroom practice to suit the needs of all learners.
Children, as a consequence of their participation in Child to Child activities both in the classroom and in school clubs, are noticing the barriers that children with disabilities face and are identifying ways of overcoming them.
Thanks to media messages and PSGs activities, parents and communities are increasingly aware of disability, disabled children and the rights and different needs of all community members. Parents of disabled children are giving equal importance to the education and inclusion of their disabled child.
Participatory Child to Child approaches are being incorporated into long-term inclusive education initiatives and pre-service teacher training by the Ministry of Education and Kyambogo University. This should ultimately ensure that children with disabilities can access primary school and receive a good quality education.