Disabled children in Ntoroko being left out of education programmes.


Unlike in other districts which have special needs classes for children with disabilities, in Ntoroko there is no single primary and secondary school offering education. In Karugutu Primary School, David Businge, the head teacher says that much as children with disabilities need equal opportunities like other children, the school lacks the basic facilities like ramps for the children in wheelchairs, user-friendly classroom furniture, toilets and brail materials for the blind and hearing aids for the deaf. Businge says that when there are no facilities at the school. He says that the school lacks the funds to implement the programme in the school. At Nombe Primary School, Brown Kisembo, the head teacher says that special needs programme, was scarped a year after its inception. He says that several parents have brought their disabled children to be enrolled, but have been turned away. Kisembo says that some teachers were trained in special needs, but they lacked motivation to instruct pupils with disabilities, because they were being paid the same amount of salary like other teachers yet they had heavy workload. Steven Mwesige, a parent of a disabled child, says that children with disabilities need education much more than the able bodied ones, because education is their only means of survival since they can hardly engage in business and casual work. Mwesige also says that education of disabled children helps them interact with other children. He wants the government to fund the programme. Francis Katuramu, the Ntoroko District Education Officer says that he has instructed the authorities in government schools not to enroll disabled children because of lack of funds for the programme. He says that private schools in the district are allowed to teach the children, as long as they have the facilities and trained teachers. In a telephone interview, Martin Omagir, the commissioner in charge of special needs at the ministry of education and sports says that schools are not supposed to turn away children with disabilities. Omagir says that primary and secondary school authorities should use funds allocated to the education department to support disabled children. He says that the Ministry has no specific budget allocated to special needs education. However under the Persons with Disability Act, the government is supposed to commit not less than 10% of all educational expenditure to the educational needs of children with disabilities. Last year, the ministry of Education and Sports developed a special needs education policy to enable children with disabilities benefit from educational programmes like the other children. It requires that children with disabilities should learn together with other children, but should have special needs teachers to help them. According to the 2002 population and housing census, the number of persons with disabilities was about 5 million however only 2.2% got formal education

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