Inclusive education means all children in the same classrooms, in the same schools. It means real learning opportunities for groups who have traditionally been excluded – not only children with disabilities, but speakers of minority languages too.
Inclusive systems value the unique contributions students of all backgrounds bring to the classroom and allow diverse groups to grow side by side, to the benefit of all.
Children with disabilities (CwDs) remain one of the principal groups excluded from education globally. In Uganda, only an estimated 9% of CwDs enroll in primary school. Furthermore, those who do attend are more likely to be excluded from the classroom, fail to progress, and consequently drop out (UNESCO 2015).
Widespread local beliefs that disabilities are an untreatable curse exclude children and their families from their communities and prevent access to healthcare and education services. The poor local understanding of disability is a huge barrier to the progress, learning, and independence of many children, affecting their overall health outcomes and development, impeding the economic independence of their families.
The right to high-quality education for children marginalized by disability and poverty is an urgent issue. The provision of multidisciplinary, holistic therapy services is crucial to enabling Inclusive education that can break the link between disability, family income, and lack of educational achievement. Therefore, there is a moral imperative to provide an inclusive learning environment for children with disabilities to raise attainment and close the disadvantage gap.
School readiness is a key foundational element in early childhood education and consists of 3 focus areas:
Ready children; this aims at ensuring children achieve certain developmental physical, social, cognitive and emotional milestones
Ready schools; focusing on appropriate systems and infrastructure in place to provide a conducive and inclusive learning environment for all children
Ready families; focusing on parental and caregivers roles and support in the learning and development of their children in preparation to attend school
For children with disabilities to have the opportunity to be fully integrated into learning systems, they require holistic therapy and education interventions, good nutrition and a supportive home environment that allows them to thrive. KCDC provides multi-disciplinary approaches, including using individual learning plans tailored to each child, to ensure that CwDs make gains in therapy, nutrition and education milestones leading to overall better health and learning outcomes. Children who achieve milestones in these areas are more likely to participate in social activities in their communities, attend and complete primary school with continuous support from our therapists and special education team.
Exclusion of CwDs in schools can be attributed to the lack of infrastructure that gives children access (ramps, rails and hand bars) and the severe shortage of well-trained teachers who are adequately prepared for working in diverse classrooms or equipped with the confidence, knowledge and skills to effectively support learners with disabilities. By equipping teachers with inclusive teaching strategies through our training programme, schools will be better prepared to accommodate children with diverse learning needs, giving them the opportunity to access life-changing education and the chance to succeed in the future.
Teachers trained in special needs education work with students to identify their individual learning needs and make adaptations within the classroom and teaching methods to achieve the students potential. This may involve teaching in sign language or Braille, using various manipulatives and resources to aid learning, and by adapting the content of the lessons so that the student is able to learn at their own pace, while being in an inclusive environment alongside their peers.
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