Symbols being used to support children with SEN in mainstream schools in Uganda
SEN Project Uganda is a project run by Soft Power Education, based at Walukuba Primary School - a mainstream primary school in Uganda with a residential special needs unit...
Children with Special Educational Needs in Uganda face many difficulties in their everyday life due to the severity of their disability, society's misunderstanding and funding for specialist equipment and schooling.
The project aims to overcome these barriers and provide an education for children who would otherwise be kept at home and uneducated because of their disability, by entering them into an integrated education system with their peers and providing them with specialist equipment to aid their education and welfare.
Widgit donated InPrint software to the SEN Project Uganda in support of their work, to enable the teachers volunteering at the project to create symbol-supported materials.
Sarah Louise, the SEN Project Manager for Soft Power Education, describes the impact that using Widgit Symbols has had in Uganda:
"The special needs unit at Walukuba Primary School has 21 children with physical and intellectual disabilities and 16 deaf children. They are aged 6-17 years and have a range of disabilities including Cerebral Palsy, ADHD, Deaf, Down syndrome, behavioural, communication difficulties and epilepsy.
For many of these children, this is the first time they have attended school. Up until now they have been kept at home - often hidden away from the community due to the stigma attached to disability here in Uganda.
Initially, I trained my project coordinator and an international volunteer to use InPrint and, from there, we made symbol- supported teaching resources for the classes and the outreach service.
Initially, we developed reusable worksheets for English, Maths, Science and communication. We have also developed simple communication books to help children with little or no speech.
InPrint has given the teachers a good base for developing their teaching for children with disabilities and see how they can deliver the adapted Ugandan curriculum we are piloting, which has been written in conjunction with a school in the UK.
The teachers have never had resources like these to teach from, as they are trained to teach from the front of the class in rote fashion! Widgit Symbol resources have enabled me and my team to teach the teachers about differentiation, small group work as well as whole class work and to develop independence within the child when working.
For the children, Widgit Symbol resources have provided a visual means of learning which for many disabled children is the best way to learn. The impact has been amazing.
We have also just started to use the computers with the children developing story boards and books and also training the teachers in the programme. It has been a long process as, to start with, we had to train the teachers and children how to use a computer before we could implement the software.
There's still more to be taught, but learning in Uganda is a slow process and it takes time to introduce new things and structures, and to embed information.
The kids and staff are so keen and excited about learning and implementing new teaching techniques. The smiles on the children's faces - and staff for that matter - really make it all worthwhile.
They are extremely grateful for this opportunity given by Widgit."