‘Cabinet’s failure to approve inclusive education policy costing the nation’

Africa, October 31 2016

KAMPALA, UGANDA: Lack of a national policy on inclusive education has kept many children with disabilities out of school, Eng. Patrick Mutenga, the chairperson of the Committee on management of Uganda Society for Disabled Children [USDC] has said.

Inclusive education means that all learners irrespective of disability attend schools in age-appropriate, have regular classes and are supported to learn, contribute and participate in all aspects of the life of the school.

Uganda’s policy on inclusive Education which was tabled before cabinet in 2011 is yet to be approved.

Termed as policy on special needs and inclusive Education and non-formal education policy, it was meant to address challenges faced in implementing inclusive education.

Mr Mutenga said the policy was formulated and tabled before cabinet in 2011 but keeps shifting within the cabinet shelves and trolleys.

“This policy would have developed a common understanding of inclusive education and how Uganda as a country can implement the approach to benefit children with disabilities, but we are now stuck,” said Mr Mutenga.

He said Uganda has many schools but only 150 schools are implementing inclusive education and that this is equivalent to schools in only one district.

Dr Eric Paul Njuki from the Faculty of Special Needs and Rehabilitation at Kyambogo University urged government to make inclusive education training compulsory in all teacher training institutions.

Dr Njuki emphasized the need for an increased enrollment, participation and completion of schooling by persons with special learning needs, strengthening and systematizing existing initiatives/programs.

The Minister of State for Primary education Ms Rosemary Sseninde said the long stay of the policy at cabinet has effected implementation of the programme.

“Five years is too long for a policy to stay at cabinet level, I am going to follow it up and ensure it is brought for approval before the cabinet,” said Mrs Seninde.

According to the Situation Analysis of Children in Uganda Report 2015 by UNICEF, Uganda has about 2.5 million children with some form of disability and of these; only 5% are able to access education within an inclusive setting in regular schools while only
10% access education through special schools and annexes.

The report adds that many schools supposed to provide inclusive education are poorly equipped to assess or meet the various needs of children with disabilities and that as a result; several children with disabilities are not attending formal education in these schools and the few that join and end up dropping out before completing the primary cycle.

Source: The Monitor

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