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World Children’s Day: Providing vital educational support for children with deafblindness/ multi-sensory impairments in Uganda

20 November 2020

Today we are celebrating World Children’s Day, which is held each year to promote children's welfare and rights worldwide. The theme is ‘A day to reimagine a better future for every child’ and this year’s event is a double celebration as it coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Sense International’s vision is a world in which every child with deafblindness gains a better future through the power of education. To mark this year’s event, Sense International is highlighting our new Inclusive Education programme to support children with deafblindness/ multi-sensory impairments (MSI) in Uganda.

National stakeholders at an inception meeting for Sense International Uganda’s new Inclusive Education programme.

Sense International Uganda was awarded a grant of more than £456,000 for the Comic Relief and UK Aid “All In, All Learning!” programme, which will support children with deafblindness/MSI to access pre-school services to facilitate their successful enrolment and transition to mainstream primary schools.

The four-year programme will support children from one to eight years old with deafblindness/ MSI living in Central and Eastern Uganda, building on Sense International’s previous successful education programmes in the country. The programme will:

  • Support 300 children with deafblindness/MSI to successfully transition to primary school
  • Support 30 mainstream primary schools to provide holistic, responsive and supportive early childhood development services for children with deafblindness/MSI
  • Support parents, carers and communities to become active and knowledgeable champions of effective early childhood development through the Uganda Parents Association for Children with Deafblindness
  • Strengthen government policy in Uganda to increase and sustain inclusion of children with deafblindness/MSI within the education system 

Alison Marshall, Director of Sense International, said:

“Without support, children with deafblindness/MSI in Uganda face challenges with communication and mobility which often leave them unable to access quality education. Our new Inclusive Education programme in Uganda will provide vital educational support for children with deafblindness/MSI and their families, ensuring they receive the best start in life and bright prospects for the future.”

In Uganda, children with deafblindness/MSI are 17 times less likely to be in school than non-disabled children and half as likely to be in school compared to children with other disabilities. This is due to constraints including: limited numbers of special educational needs teachers and training; inaccessible school facilities and learning resources; and perceptions about children with deafblindness/ MSI which underestimate their potential to learn.

The Comic Relief and UK Aid “All In, All Learning!” programme will address these issues and help children like David and Bruno, who have been supported by Sense International’s previous Inclusive Education programmes in Uganda.

Daniel’s Story

Daniel sitting outside.

Daniel is a 10-year-old boy with deafblindness who lives with his family. After being identified by Sense International Uganda, Daniel was supported with regular home visits from a mainstream schoolteacher. These visits enabled Daniel to learn practical skills, such as brushing his teeth and feeding himself. He was also provided with a wheelchair and specialised chair to support his mobility and sitting.

With continued support from Sense International Uganda, and his mother and teacher, Daniel continues to show progress. He received toys and learning aids which further enhanced his learning. Children from Daniel’s neighbourhood have started to engage with him and play together with his toys which has developed his social skills and built good relationships.

Using his specialised chair, Daniel can sit without any supports and has learned how to grasp and hold objects. Learning how to crawl was a great milestone and achievement for Daniel and he is now able to move from one place to another.

Bruno’s Story

Bruno sitting outside, smiling.

Eight-year-old Bruno, who is blind and partially deaf, lives with his mother and sister. Before being supported by Sense International, Bruno was unable to walk, sit or feed himself. Through Sense International Uganda, he was supported by a ‘Learning Support Assistant’ to learn how to walk, sit and hold utensils to feed himself.

Thanks to support from Sense International, Bruno has joined a mainstream school, where he is learning to write on braille paper, and he continues to receive home visits. He is a jolly boy who enjoys singing, clapping his hands and playing with other children in his neighbourhood and at school.

 Find out more information about Sense International Uganda.

First published: Tuesday 18 June 2013
Last updated: Friday 6 December 2019