March 15, 2007
Disabled receive special education
By Jackie Nalubwama

It appears that there is no stone NUSAF has left unturned, because in Moroto NUSAF has supported education for children with special needs. The Weekly Observer talked to Moroto District’s Inspector of Schools, George William Igune, who is also in-charge of special needs education in the district.

When did the Project start and why?
It started in 2005 because we have varying special needs for education in the district. Take for example: visual impairment, hearing impairment, motor impairment, and the epileptic.

George William Igune the Inspector of schools and also incharge of special needs education, Moroto District

Impairments, such as blindness or partial blindness are common in Karamoja because children who have suffered from measles become blind and others commonly suffer from trachoma. What makes it even worse are some cultural practices, where a blind or partially blind child is put in a hut burning with herbs. It has been found that this smoke makes the partially blind, [completely] blind.

How much did the Project cost?
In total it cost Shs. 11 million, but we have used Shs. 4.5 million for buying equipment, which we distributed to the beneficiaries. We gave them Perkins Brailler material for the visually impaired and Braille paper. And we have contacted someone in Norway for Braille balls, which have bells in them, so the children will use their ears when playing with these balls. We also hope to collaborate with Uganda National Association for the Blind for equipment.

How many schools have you distributed to?
So far only one school has been catered for-Kangole Girls Primary School because the equipment is very expensive. A Perkins Brailler [Type writer for the blind] cost Shs. 1.57 million at the time but I hear it is now approaching Shs. 2 million. We bought 3 Perkins Braillers for the school because it has 14 visually impaired children. We also bought a rim of brail sheets at a cost of Shs. 90 to 100, 000.

Are they using the equipment?
Yes they are. Some of them even sat Primary Leaving Examinations last year but UNEB is [only] now going to give the results, because it takes time to transcribe brail into print. Then the markers can go on and mark.

Have the Perkins Braillers helped children learn faster?
When using a Perkins Brailler, a child learns faster and can now finish exams in the allotted time. They are ordinarily given 30 extra minutes to finish exams. With the Perkins Brailler a child can type letters onto brail paper very fast indeed.

What problems have you faced?
The main problem has been repairing equipment because we do not have specialized people to repair them. I want to ask Uganda National Association for the Blind to train upcountry people on how to repair the equipment.

We also need more equipment such as magnifying glasses for the partially impaired, frame tailor [used in Mathematics], wheel chairs, hearing aids, abacus [which is a calculator for the blind], among others. There is also a shortage of personnel that are trained in special needs.

Another cropping problem is that with UPE, parents send children with special needs to study with the rest, yet there is no provision for special needs in UPE schools. UPE does not aptly cater for special needs.

If NUSAF had not come how different would the situation have been?
It would have been terrible because equipment is so expensive. But now with NUSAF, at least children in Kangole Girls Primary School share Perkins Braillers in the ratio of 2 to1. Although in the ideal situation, it should be each child with a Perkins Brailler.