Thursday, 18 April 2013


Mr. George Mainja Kasese DEO talking to  Mr. Eric Kamwenge DEO who had led a team to learn from Kasese 9th April, 2013
As a plan of Action from the district consultative for vulnerable groups and the district Education stakeholders meeting 7 Kamwenge district leaders participated in a two days learning visit in Kasese district on inclusive Special Needs Education from 9th -10th , April, 2013.  The team from Kamwenge included the Hon. Gerald Twebaze District speaker, Mr. Eric Tumwiringire the District Education Officer, Inspector of schools (SNE), District councilor for PWD, a teacher from St. Anthony P/S that is catering for the vulnerable and a youth counselor representing the secretary for education.
The Mr.George Mainja  Kasese District Education Officer, started by giving the history of special needs education that started at Rukoki Model P/s which was later extended to Kinyamaseke P/S.  Without any secondary education to cater for special needs Education, most children would drop out after P.7 which made the district to earmark Saad Memorial SS  in 2012 that currently secures funding from the ministry to the tune 2.500.000 on the quarterly basis and NUDIPU which facilitated them with a latrine 10 million shillings for ramps ad latrine to cater for the PWD. Organizations like BTC have greatly contributed to realization of special needs education by constructing a dormitory at Kinyamaseke Primary School as well as facilitating trainings for teachers during Holidays.
In his key note address the district Education Officer, Kasese emphasized that for special needs education to be realized the Local government needs to have interest in the intervention which will attract other stakeholders to give a helping hand   therefore Kasese district initiated special needs education and the development patterns followed as it was a priority for the district. The district has also involved PWDs in district functions so that they are exposed to people for support.
How will  the exchange visit address the challenges of Kamwenge District in implementing inclusive  education where the only school that had started offering special needs educated was diverted from Kamwenge P/s and taken up as a church project which is now private. Even when development partners like UNICEF and FINLAND plan to provide beds and build a dormitory   they have no teachers to teach sign language and brail. The children with special needs education drop out in P.4 because they do not see a future after P7. The DEO advised the team from Kamwenge that if they are to succeed in implementing special needs education they need to establish a district management team as in the case of Kasese district which is composed of 13 members and Chaired by the CAO to guide implementation. Advocacy by children with special needs themselves and a case in point was when the children with special needs after P.7 went to the District Chairperson  and the Chief Administrative to ask about their future after P.7. Also most important, the team was advised to consider special needs education in the District Development plans and Budget. On the part of teachers the district should register and deploy teachers according to special needs in the schools as well as encourage more teachers training in SNE. The SMC and PTA could also be a target as Kasese district is also trying to influence the school management committees and PTA to consider having Special Needs Education representative. What about the consideration of special allowances for SNE teachers as for science teachers this was food for thought for the team.  The other key consideration is how much of the local revenue goes to Special Needs Education Kasese district provides at least 20% of its local revenue. Most important to note for the team was that Special Needs Education is a multi-sectoral approach where all departments have to be involved.
The Kamwenge Team and KALI team bidding farewell at KALI Office,
The team was taken to four schools to learn practical experience   to Rukoki Model Primary School,  Saad Memorial SS, Kiyamaseke Primary School  and Mpondwe Primary School  the schools implementing Inclusive special needs education. Together with the visiting team, the DEO representative, the staff of KALI, Mr. Katemba Douglas  a retired Kasese  DEO and the media headed to Rukoki primary school we were briefed about by the Headmistress of the school. The school has a total enrollment of 530 pupils of which 116 are children with special needs and 6 special needs Education teachers. She noted that she has registered process in special needs education since the unit opened as majority of the children was able to complete primary education; others joined   Secondary schools  while three of them are integrated into formal employment. Three children with special needs education were enrolled on tailoring with in the school after completing P.7.  Nine Children with special needs education with facilitated with 9 tailoring machines, and 5 braille machines, power, a second hand computer, a gate but one cannot all is smooth for Rukoki P/s as they have no accommodation for some children since the dormitory is small, lack of materials to use for vocational training and parents contribution of 100,000 per pupil by parents and guardians has remained a challenge.
 At saad memorial SS the school started integrating special needs education in 2012 with one girl with visual impairment and a boy with hearing impairment and with sensitization of students in appreciating and working with children with special needs the number increased to 21 students with special needs education.  No in their doubted their capacity as it was noted that all the 4 students who sat for Uganda Advanced Certificate in Education, 3 of them passed in grade 3 while one passed in grade 4. The schools authorities have received capacity building from civil society like Handicap, KADIPPU/ NUDIPPu that has trained staff in sign language and continuous support from the government. The school has introduced sign language for all pupils in S.1 for communication to the dumb and deaf.  The also has a board that seats every quarter to assess the progress of special needs education.  The head teacher of the school advised the team from Kamwenge that special needs education needs the intervention of all the stakeholders as well as train their own manpower in special needs education. Other schools visited were Kinyamaseke P/s and Mpondwe primary school which had 136 and 87 pupils with DNE respectively.
Talking class room that works for all pupils, what about those with visual impairment?
The leaders left Kasese district with a commitment that they will establish SNE management committee by end June 2013, establish a district special Needs education unit as well as identify and assess the situation of special needs education as well as share the learning visit report with other departments of the district. Thanks for the generous support from HIVOS.
Sheila Kengingo