By: Phionah Katushabe
In a recent survey conducted among the children undergoing rehabilitation at CoRSU aged between 6-17 years, most of them asked the government to put up more Special Needs schools that can offer them free education. A big number of them cited their disabilities as the reason for failure to go to school. They said fellow pupils tease, harass and mock them. Another factor they mentioned was lack of scholastic materials. Statistics show that of the 589 children interviewed in the different parts of Uganda, 74% said lack of scholastic materials was a major issue affecting their education.
Teacher Miriam in class with some of the patients
As we join the world to celebrate the International Day of the African Child 2014 under the theme “A child friendly, quality, free and compulsory education for all children in Africa,” we ought to reflect on the issues that affect the children and how we can do more to create a better conducive environment for them to grow. The UNICEF, Gender ministry and Economic Research Centre report on child poverty and deprivation shows that over half of Uganda’s children live in extreme poverty. Nutrition, Water, health, sanitation, shelter, education and information are important aspects for any human being, mostly children. According to the report, a child is considered to be poor if they do not have at least two of these.
Nadege (C) with some of the pupils who took part in the survey
Among other rehabilitation services, we offer children classes during the time they spend at the hospital to keep them in line with their studies so that they do not lag behind. According to Miriam, their teacher, there are few Special Needs teachers in the country, yet teaching CwDs requires a lot of commitment and patience to bear with them in all conditions.
Education is a tool of empowerment for children in Africa, enabling them to achieve their maximum potential and enhancing their capacity to benefit from other entitlements that promote their well-being.
It is not easy, but if all of us in our capacities, either as government, NGOs, parents, teachers, health practitioners, community members or individuals can each contribute a block, we can in time easily roof this building.