June 27th, 2022
Disability Inclusion Programme – Uganda – A catalyst to encourage children to return to school
Update written by Wendy Lubbee, June 2022
We were excited to finally start the new Disability Inclusion Programme in February this year after multiple delays brought about by the closure of Ugandan schools due to covid. Uganda enforced the longest period of school closures worldwide with them being closed for 22 months during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is estimated that 15 million pupils did not attend school in Uganda for almost two years. Statistical models predict a learning deficit of 2.8 years in Uganda. Although the programme only started in late February, we have been encouraged by what has been achieved so far, the programme has acted as a catalyst to encourage children to go back to school.
The overall vision of this Disability Inclusion Programme is to improve the wellbeing of disabled children through inclusion and integration into their community. This is done by removing barriers to inclusion so that more disabled children can grow in confidence and have a greater opportunity to reach their full potential through participating in education and sports activities and being included in normal family, religious and community activities.
At the beginning of the Ugandan academic year, Head teachers reported that school enrolments were higher than normal after covid. This is encouraging with total enrolments in the 60 partner Primary Schools totalling 34,149 learners (girls 17,598 and boys 16,551). The percentage enrolment of disabled children also increased when compared to 2020. In 2020 the average enrolment of disabled children per school was 22 (904) in 40 schools. The baseline shows that in 2022 on average there is an increase to 31 disabled children (1,878) in 60 partner Schools in 2022. These 1,878 children are made up of 867 girls and 1,011 boys which translates to 5.5% of enrolled disabled children.
This increase in enrolment is seen as a direct result of religious leaders identifying disabled children in their congregations and communities and encouraging their caregivers to enroll their disabled child in school after attending the disability inclusion training in February 2022. With covid restrictions being removed the programme will continue to work with parents, teachers, and the community at large to change mindsets in order to reduce stigma and improve inclusion of disabled children.
We are grateful to the supporters of this programme who partner with us to change the lives of disabled children who otherwise be left behind in not only their education opportunities but in experiencing life to its full.
Photo above: Training of 120 religious leaders both Christian and Muslim in Disability Inclusion.