MUST for Inclusive Education.

Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) has made strides towards promoting Inclusive Education through creating an accommodative environment for People with Disabilities (PWDs) both students and staff. This was revealed in a one-day workshop held at University Inn organized by the Dean of Students Department to sensitize students and staff about Disability and Special Needs Policy and how it can be implemented. The Disability and Special Needs Policy 2016 was launched with support from Africa Development Bank under the ADB- HEST project on cross cutting issues and Ministry of Education and Sports.

The workshop was attended by the Faculty Deans, the representative from Academic Registrar’s Department, Heads of Department and Administrators. According to the Deputy Dean, Mrs. Maureen Kahima Twongirwe, the workshop aimed at generating ideas on how best the University can work to help students and staff with disabilities to identify their needs and propose strategies for providing facilities that provide a conducive learning and teaching environment. “Promoting inclusive education starts with you and me, the words we use around PWDs the priority we give them and above all the human face”. Said Maureen. She added that the workshop was organized to re-orient the MUST staff on how to handle PWDs community with major focus on students. “We as staff have worked closely with these students, I believe we have ideas to share on how best we can make the feel included”.  Noted, Maureen.

Stella Dusabe Byarugaba (Mrs), the coordinator of the PWDs at

Stella Dusabe Byarugaba (Mrs), the coordinator of the PWDs at MUST said, the university administration has been so supportive on issues concerning PWDs both students and staff. She added that the management has embraced efforts to provide accessibility through remodeling the infrastructure such as putting up of ramps in both new and old buildings, modification of pathways and some students have been admitted on Special Needs affirmative action programme.

MUST used to admit Special Needs students with minimal needs or mild impairments and had no policy on special needs. To-date, the situation is different and this has led to increased PWDs enrollment and an association to united them has been formed.  Noted, Stella

She further pointed out the challenges affecting PWDs such as myths about disabilities, breaking the bias about PWDs, lack of involvement of their involvement in planning and lack of fully fledged offices equipped and staffed to address disability issues.

The workshop facilitator.

The workshop facilitator Mr. Oyesigye Stuart, a lecturer at Kyambogo University in the Faculty of Special Needs and rehabilitation encouraged the MUST community to admit, welcome and embrace people with disabilities. According to Mr. Oyesigye, some categories of students with disabilities are easy to handle and lecturers should be brave to deal with them. He also called for continuous training of both teaching and non- teaching staff on how to handle PWDs.

‘’Students with disabilities are normal like others, always among the top performers in their respective courses if at all they’re attended to and are willing to learn so as they can impact their societies so don’t discriminate them. Mr. Oyesigye said

An advocacy officer at Oyesigye Special Child Foundation

Mr.  Didas  Byarugaba an advocacy officer at Oyesigye  Special Child Foundation in Nyakakoni  Ruti Mbarara shared his experience as PWD.

Didas said every community he went to people would look at him with pity, some would break down in tears. This did not stop him from perusing his dreams. With a financially challenged mother, Didas decided to look for tuition by moving door-to-door.

He got a sponsor who was willing to cater for his needs till to higher education level . Madam Carol Nansubuga from Nile and Woods company in Kasese took on the mantle diligently.  Didas joined Kyambogo University for a certificate in Community Based Rehibition programme. On successful completion, he received a convocation scholarship and went back to Kyambogo University to pursue a Diploma programme. Unfortunately, half-way the programme, the sponsors pulled out leaving him no choice. “Every dark cloud has a silver lining”.  A friend told him to share his story with the Vice Chancellor. On listening to his story, Prof. Eli Katunguka waved off Didas’s tuition and todate, Mr. Byarugaba holds a bachelor’s degree in Community Based Rehabilitation

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are people like you, just because we are different and do things differently. All we need is love and understanding not pity and sympathy, never let the community’s perception of you define you, chase you goals and dreams,” said Didas.

At the of the workshop, the MUST community contributed towards the foundation and the procurement of Didas’s laptop to support him as he executes his duties on time.

Disability is a mindset: