Often, issues of children with special needs tend to be relegated to the periphery.
The minister of education, Ms Janet Kataha Museveni wants that reversed, saying her ministry has a mandate to confront these and related issues.
For national integration, individual and development, Ms Kataha noted that her ministry is mandated to support, guide, coordinate, regulate and promote quality education and sports across the country.
“The Ministry hosts a Special Needs and Inclusive Education Department whose mission is ‘to coordinate and support the provision of Special Needs and Inclusive Education Services to meet the educational needs and rights of learners with special learning needs,” she said while launching Entebbe Children’s Welfare Primary School for Special Needs late last week.
She continued: “We are working on more interventions to support this effort for children with special needs.”
Special needs is a term used to describe individuals who require assistance for disabilities that may be medical, mental, or psychological.
The new classroom facility fully funded and constructed by African Gold Refinery, according to the administrators of Entebbe Children’s Welfare School, is not only timely but more of a blessing for the dozens of children with special needs, who tend to be considered as “afterthought” most of the times.
The school was started in 1985 by Ms Felicity N. Kizito with two pupils. According to the head teacher, Ms Christine Mugwanya, the gold refiner has been supporting the school whose population has rose to about 70 pupils since 2015.
She said: “The school can now caters for up to 70 pupils. Of that number, 33 are girls and 37 are boys. Currently there are a total of nine teachers on government payroll and one special needs teacher who is paid by a Non-Government Organization.”
“There are two vocational teachers one of whom handles the knitting class while the other handles tailoring and cookery classes paid for by the School Management Committee including six other support staff who are also paid by the school Management Committee,” she added.
Other partners of the schools include but not limited to: the Netherlands Government, Save the Children, the Uganda Association for the mentally handicap, DANIDA Uganda, Danish Red-Cross and Kenya Ports Authority.
Ms Mugwanya noted the needs for the school is far from over, appealing for a new dormitory for the girls and more teachers trained in special needs education for the school so as to improve the teacher to pupil ratio of 1:5, a request Ms Museveni said she will see to it.