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Poor govt funding crippling special needs education, say officials

A teacher engages a special needs pupil in an exercise in class. Local leaders have decried the poor government funding citing that it has crippled the special needs education programme (MOES PHOTO)

JINJA – Jinja District officials have said poor government funding is crippling the performance of special needs schools in the area.

A special needs school is one that caters for children with learning difficulties due to physical disabilities or behavioural problems.

The in-charge unit for blind children at Spire Road Primary School, Mr Kenneth Kyarimpa, has conceded that the money they receive from Government is too little to cater for all the children needs.

“We receive Shs1.5m as subvention fees from Government every term which is very little. Shs5m can at least help us as the learning tools they use are very expensive,’’ Mr Kyarimpa said.

He added: “We have 31 machines but most of them are too old, and the pupils are 55 yet every child needs a machine.’’

According to Mr Kyarimpa, these children are in boarding schools, can’t move alone like normal children and risk being knocked by vehicles because they can’t see.

“Others came from remote districts and feeding them is also another big challenge and most are not sure of their next meal.

“This is because they are heavily dependent on the Good Samaritans like the Rotary Club of Jinja, Eskom Uganda and grants and sponsorship from different sources which are irregular,’’ he said.

This reporter unearthed a similar predicament hovering over children in the deaf, physically handicapped and mental department of Walukuba West Primary School in Jinja district.

Ms Mideasinia Pataki Frances, the head teacher of the school, said the Shs1m that government gives the school every term is way below the demands of the 76 pupils at the Special Needs School.

“I appeal to Government to increase the money from Shs1m to Shs3m because what Government sends is not enough to provide for scholastic materials, First Aid and offer a balanced diet,” she said.

The Headteacher of Kyomya Primary School in Busedde Sub-county, Ms Vicencia Musubika, said they have 197 pupils with disabilities and are financially incapacitated in teaching and feeding the children, many of whom end up dropping out.

Teaching a child with special needs is becoming an uphill task for teachers because of inadequate special scholastic materials that are supposed to be provided by government.

Although a teacher requires chalk, blackboard, pens and papers to teach a normal child, the story is different for children with learning disabilities who need Perkins braillers and brailler papers to learn.

These scholastic materials are very expressive yet every child who is visually impaired, for example, needs a Perkins brailler which cost Shs3m and brailler papers which cost Shs250, 000 per cartoon to learn.

Special Needs Schools may be specifically designed, staffed and resourced to provide an appropriate education for children with additional needs.

According to Persons with Disability Act of 2006, children with a disability also have a right to access education.

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