The overall goal of the assessment was to conduct a needs assessment of children of primary school age with special needs and disabilities in Bidibidi and Omugo refugee settlements in West Nile Region aimed at establishing the evidence base for inclusive education for children in Bidibidi and Omugo and to inform Finn Church Aid’s (FCA) planning for inclusive education and decision-making of local authorities and other organizations working in the settlements.
The study used a mix of methods (qualitative and quantitative) in the collection and analysis of data. Primary data was generated through Focus Group Discussions with Children with special needs and parents/caregivers, survey interviews (with teachers and parents/caregivers) and Key Informant Interviews with different stakeholders. These were supplemented with secondary data from different reports including past reports.
Baseline for Children with Special Needs: There is number of children with special needs. This seems to be higher in Omugo than Bidibidi. Sixty-six (66%) and 55% of teachers in Omugo and Bidibidi settlements respectively reported having children with special needs in their classes.
Capacity of the existing school staff and the communities: Slightly more than a half of the teachers in both settlements had ever been trained in supporting Children special needs. More teachers in Omugo settlement (53%) had been trained than in Bidibidi settlement 47%.
Forty four percent (44%) of parents/caregivers had ever received such training on supporting Children with special needs. By settlement, more parents/caregivers in Omugo settlement 56% had been trained compared to 54% in Bidibidi settlement.
Design of school infrastructure: Seventy five percent (75% of schools have toilet stances for Children with special needs and special needs, 40% of schools have visual learning materials displayed and 25% have ramps. In 69% of schools, children are exposed to dangerous environments e.g. unpaved compounds, unmarked paths, presence of debris in the compound, among others.
Learning materials for such Children with special needs and special needs: Seventy five percent (75%) of schools do not have Braille, all schools sampled had no special chairs purposely for Children with special needs and special needs.
Available services and their disability inclusiveness in education: Four entities were found to be the main providers of basic and humanitarian services that embed education support. These include; the Uganda National Association of the Blind, Special needs education Office, Save the Children and Finn Church Aid.
The main unmet needs for Children with special needs and special needs are; guidance and psychosocial support (27.8%), braille machines and other equipment (22.6%) and infrastructure (latrines and classes) (13%).
There are community beliefs that associate children with disabilities and special needs with curse or bad omen leading to parental neglect and unwillingness to take the children to school. There is also violence by able-bodied children manifested in form of ridicule, physical beatings and mockery. There are missing support facilities such as transport to school, specialized schools to support them and lack of support especially for movement of blind children at schools.
Key barriers and facilitators to inclusive and special needs education: The key challenges to education of children with disabilities and special needs include: lack play materials, have difficulty in reporting cases of abuse and violence and are constrained by long distance to schools.
Key challenges and opportunities for inclusive and special needs education: The key opportunities include existing structures such as District Special Needs Education Officer/ inclusive SNE teachers committee, parent support group, Children committee and PTA and SMC that can articulate needs of Children with special needs and special needs