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Special Needs Schools Worried of Retention of Learners When Schools Reopen

According to the teachers, with the absence of reliable home-based study materials for learners with special needs especially those who study in the sign-language model, many of them have been demotivated and there is a likelihood that a big number may not return to school.
A teacher with a mask on struggling to communicate to a class of learners with hearing impairment

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Teachers of special needs children are uncertain of retaining their learners when schools reopen.

According to the teachers, with the absence of reliable home-based study materials for learners with special needs especially those who study in the sign-language model, many of them have been demotivated and there is a likelihood that a big number may not return to school.  

Olivia Namugabo, a teacher at Masaka School for the Deaf-Ndegeya, says their learners have completely been detached away from any learning process since the lockdown was declared, and as a result, many are have been exposed to abuses while others have lost morale in education. 

She explains the deaf learners have never been covered under the government’s home-schooling programs ever since they were sent back home because the available home-study materials do not cater to their needs. 

According to Namugabo, their learners require sign language interpreters in all their learning environments a provision government did not cater for. She argues that its better government reopens schools for children with special needs to provide for a safe environment as well as supporting their continuity in learning.

   //Cue in: “the materials….   

  Cue out; …eighteen months.”//  Luganda //Cue in: “abaana mu mbeera…..   

  Cue out: ….mu kiseera kino.”//

Namugabo is afraid that the long closure of schools has also retarded the learning momentum of children with special needs, which is going to leave long-lasting consequences in their teaching process if the government doesn’t take an immediate remedy to save the situation.

   //Cue in: “as I heard….   

  Cue out: …..situation at home.”//  

Luganda   

  //Cue in: “embeera gy’ebayiseemu….   

  Cue out; …..ssikyayagala kusoma.”//   

 Anne Florence Nakabuye, the Deputy Headteacher at Misanvu School for Children with Special Needs in Bukomansimbi district, argues that because their schools are purely boarding, they can easily reduce the risk of internal spreading of Covid-19, calling upon the government to find justification for their immediate reopening.  

She says that unlike, ordinary learners, children with special needs have limited options of finding livelihoods without formal education, challenging the government to pay extra attention to their challenges by closing a loophole that can lead them to drop out of school.  

Richard Musisi, an Executive Officer and Instructor at Masaka Association of Persons Living with HIV/AIDs-MADIPHA indicate that they also noted that the long-staying of children at home is exposing them to risks of contracting the virus.

Denis Mugimba, the Ministry of Education Spokesperson indicates that they are mindful of the challenges that children are going through, however indicating that keeping them at home was inevitable giving the grave health risk of Covid-19. He adds that the Ministry’s technical teams are tirelessly working out interventions that will cater for all categories of learners.

While addressing the nation about the Covid-19 situation on Wednesday, President Museveni revealed that National Taskforce resolved to have schools reopened in January next year after the vaccination of at least of teachers.