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Students With Disabilities Welfare Takes Centre Stage at Sensitization Workshop

  • In General
  • 26 Jun 2017 - 1:55pm
  • By Mark Wamai
  • 8,354
The Dean of Students-Mr. Cyriaco Kabagambe (C) with members of management, stakeholders and students at the students with disabilities Sensitization Workshop, 22nd June 2017, Senate Building, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda

On 22nd June 2017, the Office of Dean of Students- Makerere University organised a workshop to sensitize the institution’s Stakeholders on issues pertaining students with disability. Held in Senate Conference Hall, the workshop focused on developing a fundamental strategy to operationalize the Makerere University Policy on Students with Disabilities.

Speaking to the stakeholders, Management and members of staff present, the Dean of students Mr. Cyriaco Kabagambe said that the workshop kick-started efforts to practically implement the Makerere University Policy on Students with Disabilities. “Our aim is to create awareness of the importance of the policy through capacity building.  We want to take the policy off the shelf and put it into practice.

According to Mr. Kabagambe, the Policy on Students with Disability that was approved by the Makerere University Council in February 2014. This action was purposely to promote effective management, inclusion, participation and visibility of students of the university through deliberate supportive, sustainable and friendly physical and nonphysical environment.
The Dean of Students-Mr. Cyriaco Kabagambe convened the Stakeholders Workshop
The policy also mainstreamed the disability issues in all university programmes and activities, as well as promoted equalization of opportunities for students with disabilities and special needs in the university.

“This policy is very instrumental, based on research from different universities and other international policies. We looked at how we can create a conducive working and learning environment for the participation of students with disabilities in the university. And also promote consciousness and awareness among members of the University community about the rights and needs of students with disabilities and ways of supporting them,” he said.

On behalf of students with Disability at Makerere University, Mr. Okwii Simon Peter thanked the management and staff for ensuring effective, efficient and friendly service delivery to students with disabilities and Special Needs. “We are very grateful that out of the 64 slots the government of Uganda gives to personal with disabilities at higher institutions of learning, Makerere University takes the highest number of students during the entry application compared to other Public Institutions.”
Mr. Charles Ssentongo, Ag. Deputy Registrar (Undergraduate Admissions) contributes to the discussion during the workshop
Sharing an experience of students with disability at Makerere University, Mr. Okwii, a final year student at School of Law said that for long people have misinterpreted disability with only physical challenges. “Disability goes beyond what we can see in relation with the international convention. It goes a long way to include things we cannot see such as sickle cells, asthma, among others,” he explained.

He however, humbly called upon the university to look into the challenges that have persisted and greatly hindered his fellow students from having a convenient and enjoyable stay at campus.

“We have realised that the university has few sign posts and this has affected us. Another issue is to do with examinations, tests and course work. So many of my fellow students have failed to graduate in time due to missing marks. We find many challenges in classes with lecturers who don’t know how to handle us. Our request is to the university management is to carry out a capacity building workshop on how lecturers are supposed to handle us in class” Okwii said.
A sign language interpreter (R) helps students with hearing impairments to follow proceedings of the Stakeholders Workshop
During the workshop, the Programs Manager at National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU) Mr. Ninsiima Chris encouraged students with disability to ignite a sense of self-esteem in their lives. ” The greatest enemy of the person with disability is the person with attitude. Remove all the stereotypes and names referring to you in form of sympathy. There is ability in disability and those abilities can flourish with support,” he said.

In a presentation he made on creating a conducive study environment for students with disability at Intuitions of Higher Learning, Mr Ninsiima urged institutions of higher learning to engage the entire community including persons with disability if they are to attain inclusive development.

“Inclusive development occurs when the entire community, including persons with disabilities, benefit equally from development processes. Inclusive development encourages awareness of and participation by all marginalized groups. Disability-inclusive development respects the diversity that disability brings and appreciates that it is an everyday part of the human experience. Disability-inclusive development sets out to achieve equality of human rights for persons with disabilities as well as full participation in, and access to, all aspects of society,” he stated.
Mr. David Nangosi emphasised the need for equity for students with disabilities
Discussing the rights of person with disability under a topic; enforcing human rights of students with disabilities in institutions, Mr. David Nangosi, the Legal Officer NUDIPU emphasized the need to promote equity among students in the university. “Don’t discriminate them, let them compete with others in the various university activities available. The only way to live is to achieve equity in life.

Speaking on the role of the Makerere University Library in adapting the new innovations and modern software to suit the needs of students with disability, Mr. Luyaaya Mathias, the Officer in charge of Students’ Information Services said that the University has put in place equipment that carter of the needs of students with disability.

“We have at least stocked machines and software that carter for both students that are deaf and those who are visually impaired. The library has also been set up to accommodate students with wheelchairs among others. However, the library still faces challenges of being under-staffed and lack enough equipment in the section,” Mr Luyaaya narrated.
Dr. Margaret Wandera addresses the Stakeholders Workshop
The Director Makerere University Hospital Dr. Margaret Wandera, encouraged the students with disability to fully utilize the university hospital services. According to Dr. Wandera the university hospital has put aside services accessible to only students with special needs.

In his speech, the Guild President H.E Kato Paul thanked the Office of the Dean of Students for the initiatives it has put in place to make sure that the Makerere University Policy on Students with Disability is operationalized. He pledged to work hand in hand with the Office of the Dean of Students to see to it that the entire university community understands and puts into practice the principles of the policy.
The Guild President-H.E. Kato Paul makes his speech at the Workshop
“We are also working hand in hand with the Office of the Dean of Students to see to it that we provide orientation to first year students specifically students with disability,” he said.

H.E Kato Paul also said that his Government has embarked on an affirmative action to help students with disabilities.  The Students Guild has in place a full ministry and a well allocated budget for the students with disabilities.

Article: Public Relations Office

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