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Special Needs and Inclusive Education Department
Uganda is a signatory to the International Agreements/Commitments that provide for Learners with Special Needs. One example of such instruments that bind those agreements is the Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education (1994).
This instrument emphasizes:
- The Right of all children, including those with temporary and permanent needs for educational adjustments to attend school.
- The Right of all children to attend school in their home communities in inclusive classes.
- The Right of all children to participate in a child-centered education meeting individual needs.
- The Right of all children to participate in quality education that is meaningful for each individual.
In consonance with the Government Constitution (1995), Uganda has put in place The Persons with Disability Act (2006) and has also ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2008).
Both Instruments demand for Access, Equity and Quality as regards educational services for persons with special learning needs.
To meet those requirements, the Ministry of Education & Sports put in place a Department responsible for Special Needs and Inclusive Education. The Department is guided by the following underpinning:
Vision: Learners with special needs Accessing Quality education services equitably.
Mission: To coordinate and support the provision of Special Needs & Inclusive Education
Services to meet the educational needs and rights of learners with special learning needs.
To deliver Special Needs & Inclusive Education services in a coordinated and adequately resourced manner.
- Increased enrolment, participation and completion of schooling by persons with special learning needs.
- Strengthen and systematize existing initiatives/programs on SN&IE.
- Enhance participation of stakeholders in the management and implementation of SN&IE programs in Uganda.
- Promote sporting programs for learners with special learning needs.
- Guiding and steering stakeholders in the implementation of the policy in line with government regulations and standards.
- Organizing and conducting advocacy campaigns on special needs and inclusive education (SN&IE).
- Coordinating stakeholders in the implementation of advocacy campaigns on SN&IE.
- Setting and reviewing regulations and standards in the provision of SN&IE.
- Providing technical guidance on all matters pertaining to SN&IE policy implementation.
- Providing adequate special instructional materials and equipment.
- Conducting regular updates on best practices for managing/implementing SN&IE, upgrading of equipment and materials to meet the prevailing standards of teaching and learning for children with special needs.
- Conducting refresher programmes for the SN&IE in-service personnel.
- Licensing and registering SN&IE institutions.
- Ensuring timely release of funds for SN&IE programmes.
- Ensuring appropriate allocation of funds for SN&IE programmes.
- Ensuring adequate recruitment and deployment of SN&IE personnel in consultation with the relevant bodies.
- Providing guidance for adequate infrastructure/ facilities for SN&IE.
- Establishing appropriate structures and systems for SN&IE.
- Ensuring that affirmative action for learners with special needs is implemented in education institutions.
- Monitoring and evaluating SN&IE programmes.
Educational Provisions and Approaches in special needs & inclusive education.
The following are operational in Uganda:
The traditional/long-established approach of Special Education was and is still focusing on learners with disabilities specifically. Learning support was and still is provided in special schools and in special classes (Units/Annexes) integrated in the ordinary schools. Learners with barriers (special needs) arising from disability conditions usually require Specialized support services (e.g. Sign language interpreters, Braille transcribers etc.); Specialized teaching methods; Access to resource rooms and use of specialized technology to access curriculum. Summarily, this approach takes care of learners with visible impairments, usually in the severe-profound levels requiring specialized support.
The current approach of Inclusive Education (IE) focuses beyond both the traditional and the transitional practices of special education and integration respectively. The present trend of inclusive education and policy thrust embraces modifications in curricular, teaching methods, teaching/learning resources, medium of communication and adjusting the learning environment to meet individual learning needs. It is learner centered, flexible and adjustable to the individual needs and potential of every child. This approach takes cognizance of and seeks to mitigate factors that form barriers to children's participation in learning and development. It is meant to widen opportunity for ALL Children to interact, play, learn, experience the feeling of belonging and develop in accordance with their potentials and difficulties; thereby obtaining good quality of life within their respective environments. It is all about changing attitudes, behaviour, teaching methods, curriculum, environment and allocation of human, material and financial resources to meet the educational needs of All Learners.