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Inclusive Teaching Project Aims to Get Missing Million Into School

  • Synopsis: Published: 2017-11-06 - Project aims to train teachers in Uganda in inclusive education practices in a country where the number of children with disabilities going to school continues to fall. For further information pertaining to this article contact: University of Sussex at sussex.ac.uk.

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Quote: "We regularly teach our students about child rights and education for all but it is wonderful to be part of a project where Sustainable Development Goals are really being enacted."

The first stage of a project developed with the University of Sussex, England, aiming to help more of Uganda's one million disabled children "missing" from formal education to go to school is set to be completed in a matter of months.

The project, funded and led by the charity Sightsavers, aims to train thousands of teachers in Uganda in inclusive education practices in a country where the number of children with disabilities going to school continues to fall.

Dr Jo Westbrook, a senior lecturer in education at the University of Sussex who recently flew out to Uganda to oversee the second stage of face-to-face training, said: "It was fantastic to see those tutors on the course beginning to understand how it would be possible to include disabled pupils in their lessons despite them often being conducted under very difficult circumstances. We are still at an early stage but we are very hopeful that the impact of this training will be felt by a great many children with disabilities over time."

University of Sussex academics have been working for more than two years with the University of Kyambogo in Uganda, to develop and implement a certificate in inclusive education that teacher educators from the country's Primary Teacher Colleges will be trained in. The certificate is designed to support them in the concepts and practical teaching skills to give their trainee teachers the knowledge, understanding and strategies to fully involve children with disabilities in lessons in a challenging environment where class sizes can be up to 80 pupils.

As well as teaching a wide range of skills to new trainee teachers, including assessment of needs, braille, Ugandan sign language, and inclusive teaching approaches such as role play and group work exercises, an outreach programme has also been designed to improve standards among more experienced teaching staff and government inspectors.

Dr Jacqui Shepherd, a lecturer in education at the University of Sussex, said;

"We regularly teach our students about child rights and education for all but it is wonderful to be part of a project where Sustainable Development Goals are really being enacted. There are some very different perspectives around disability in Uganda but this project has the potential to really challenge stereotypes and move towards more inclusive schooling."

Guy Le Fanu, Global Technical Lead for Education at Sightsavers said;

"We are delighted to be working with the University of Sussex on this project. The technical input of Jo and Jacqui is enormously appreciated".

Dr Pamela Nizeyimana, from Uganda's ministry of education and sports, said;

"Achieving Sustainable Development Goal four cannot be done without having teachers and tutors trained to support in the implementation. The inclusive education project with support from the University of Sussex and Sightsavers was timely and a dire need for our country."

A man who is standing outdoors teaches a group of seated people in Uganda.
About This Image: A man who is standing outdoors teaches a group of seated people in Uganda.

About the Teaching Project

  • One in eight of Uganda's population of 34.6 million are disabled and around half have never attended school, according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics 2016 and analysis by Enable-ED CIC. Of those that have attended, the vast majority never complete their formal education.
  • More than 100 educational trainers from 54 primary teaching colleges attended the most recent training sessions held last month. Some had travelled more than two days to attend the session in Loro in the north of the country.
  • The project is being delivered in conjunction with Kyambogo University, the Uganda Society for Disabled Children and National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda and is being supported by the Ugandan government.
  • Dr Jo Westbrook is a senior lecturer in education at the University of Sussex. Her links to Uganda began with a VSO placement in 1994 and 1996 and she has previously carried out two major studies into pedagogy and teacher training in the country.
  • Dr Jacqui Shepard is a lecturer in education at the University of Sussex with a specialism in SEND and inclusion. Both hope to fly to Uganda early in the New Year to see the final modules of the training being delivered.

About Sustainable Development Goal Four

  • To ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.
  • The UN states that obtaining a quality education is the foundation to improving people's lives and sustainable development. Major progress has been made towards increasing access to education at all levels and increasing enrolment rates in schools particularly for women and girls. Basic literacy skills have improved tremendously, yet bolder efforts are needed to make even greater strides for achieving universal education goals. For example, the world has achieved equality in primary education between girls and boys, but few countries have achieved that target at all levels of education.
  • It is one of 17 goals the UN agreed to in 2015 to seek to achieve by 2030.

About Sightsavers

Sightsavers is an international organisation that works in more than 30 developing countries to prevent blindness, restore sight and advocate for social inclusion and equal rights for people with disabilities. It is a registered UK charity (Registered charity numbers 207544 and SC038110) www.sightsavers.org

There are 36 million blind people in the world; 75% of all blindness can be prevented or cured.

In the Six Decades Since Its Foundation, Sightsavers Has

  • Supported over 873 million treatments for neglected tropical diseases (of which 480,239,508 are for the potentially blinding diseases trachoma and river blindness)
  • Carried out over 9.39 million operations to restore sight
  • Trained more than 522,000 primary eye care workers
  • Carried out rehabilitation training for 210,889 blind or low vision beneficiaries
  • Supported 46,573 blind or low vision children to gain a school education

Related Information:

  1. Barriers and Abuse for Women with Disabilities in Uganda - Women with disabilities in northern Uganda experience ongoing discrimination and sexual and gender-based violence - Human Right Watch (HRW)
  2. Trip To Mbale Uganda Proves Disability Is Not Inability - Story of a Welsh woman with disabilities who travelled to Uganda to find out how disabled people there are creating their own income - Purple Shoots
  3. Ghana Seeks to End Chaining of 'Mad' People - It is time for the Ghana government to invest in mental health services, so people with psychosocial disabilities can get support, instead of ending up in shackles - Modern Ghana


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