Uganda Society for Disabled Children

Uganda Society for Disabled Children (USDC) is a local Non-Government Organisation (NGO) founded in 1984, committed to recognising and equalising the rights for children with disabilities. They deliver this with an innovative model of working through a national network of Parents Support Groups (PSGs) and Child Rights Clubs (CRCs).

USDC’s main aim is to help children with disabilities and their parents to access the resources and opportunities to enable them achieve their full potential and lead fulfilling lives. USDC provides medical and educational support to individual children, works closely with schools and families, and campaigns to ensure that disabled children across Uganda achieve their rights. In doing so, USDC staff work closely with children, families and communities as well as partnering with government staff in the health, community and education sectors.

USDC impacts the lives of disabled children and families through an innovative model of working through a national network of Parents Support Groups (PSGs) and Child Rights Clubs (CRCs). Through these networks, USDC supports children and families, raises public awareness about disability and lobbies the Ugandan Government on inclusive polices, programmes and legislation. USDC estimate they reach over 6000 children annually across the country.

USDC currently operates in 18 districts raising public awareness about disability; building government capacity and empowering parents to offer care and protection; lobbying for disability inclusive polices, programmes and legislation; and through managing and sharing disability information. The society operates through a network of Parent Support Groups (PSGs) which enable parents to be more involved in changing the lives of their children and are a useful resource in educating the wider community

Each year approximately 7,000 children are directly assisted through the society’s Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) approach, which emphasises the use of locally available resources, active involvement of parents and family members and rehabilitation with the home environment. Since its founding, over 250,000 individual disabled children have been assisted in meeting their rehabilitation in terms of medical, educational placement or needs for trainings in vocational skills.

 AbleChildAfrica was initially founded in 1984 as the Ugandan Society for Disabled Children (USDC) to support children injured by the Ugandan Civil War in the 1970’s and 80’.  For the next 15 years, USDC would be managed from the London office.  In 1999, a forward-thinking decision for the time was made by the Trustees that USDC should be locally run, reflecting our value of local ownership and control.  A Kampala-based Board was set up, and in April 2000, all management responsibilities and assets were transferred from the UK to Uganda. USDC Uganda became an autonomous NGO and USDC UK and Uganda became legally distinct, but continued to share similar aims and a close working relationship.  In 2007, USDC in the UK became AbleChildAfrica and began working with additional partners.  USDC Uganda became our first and longest standing overseas partner. We are very proud of what we have achieved together in the past 30 years!

 According to a 2006 survey, 7.2% of the Ugandan population are living with a disability; 30% are children. Despite significant progress at a policy level, with the Ugandan government signing and ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) there is an implementation gap. Many people living with disabilities in Uganda face stigma and discrimination, and in northern Uganda 80% of disabled people were identified as living in chronic poverty.

With a policy of Universal Primary Education, school enrolment has reached 90%. However this is not the case for disabled children, where only 2% are graduating to secondary level. USDC, in partnership with AbleChildAfrica is now leading the way to create an inclusive education system that enables all children to fulfil their potential.

AbleChildAfrica has previously worked with USDC on the following projects:

Improving Health Services

In 2015 AbleChildAfrica and USDC ran a project which improved the access to health services for disabled children living in three districts in Northern Uganda; Lira, Adjumani and Nebbi. This project provided essential equipment and resources at hospitals to enable them to better meet the basic health and diagnostic needs of disabled children, and provided children with assistive devices.  This project also worked with Cerebral Palsy Africa to train parents and teachers in the use of Appropriate Paper Based Technology: a cost-effective way to produce seating and standing equipment for children.  This project worked concurrently in the same three districts as the Inclusive Education Project, strengthening  each other as they developed.

AbleChildAfrica is currently working with CST in the following areas:

Child to Child Inclusive Education Project

AbleChildAfrica and USDC are implementing an Inclusive Education Project in three districts in Northern Uganda; Lira, Adjumani and Nebbi using an innovative Child to Child approach. This project started in 2013 with support from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and works to address the environmental, institutional and attitudinal barriers to inclusion.

Using the Child to Child approach, children ready attending school are encouraged to identify and engage with out-of-school disabled children in their communities, and, together with teachers, identify barriers to their exclusion, and work with schools and communities to ensure they can attend and stay at school.  To date over 450 disabled children have been enrolled into project schools. We are grateful for the technical expertise provided by the Child to Child Trust in delivering this project.

In 2016 AbleChildAfrica and USDC launched the scale up of this project, which is now working with 27 schools across the three districts over 5 years. Through effective monitoring and evaluation, we have used learning to re-design the teacher training programme which will be led by the Master Trainers from the original project. This scale up, which is supported by Comic Relief, will enable AbleChildAfrica and USDC to get 1,500 disabled children into school. This also includes providing children with assistive devices, making schools accessible, establishing Parent Support Groups and supporting them to start small businesses.

AbleChildAfrica and USDC are also scaling up local and national advocacy, working with the Ministry of Education, UNICEF and key stakeholders to secure national roll out of inclusive education.

Improving Learning Outcomes Project

In 2017 AbleChildAfrica and USDC launched a new project to improve the learning outcomes of disabled children who are now attending school.  By running inclusive education, it was identified that because of discrimination, poverty and sometimes neglect, some disabled children had not developed the basic skills required to succeed in an inclusive classroom.

This pilot project is working with 9 teacher mentors who will be providing 1-2-1 support to the most disadvantaged children in Lira, identified through the ongoing inclusive education project. As a result of 1-2-1 support and the creation of Individualised Learning Plans, we expect to see improvements in reading, writing and confidence for the 45 children participating.

Together AbleChildAfrica and USDC have identified the following next-steps and are currently seeking funding to deliver the following activities:

Scale up of Parents APT Workshops

In 2015, AbleChildAfrica and Cerebral Palsy Africa trained parents in Lira, Adjumani and Nebbi in how to use Appropriate Paper Based Technology (APT), a process using recycled cardboard and cassava, to make seating and standing devices for disabled children.

AbleChildAfrica is currently seeking funding to support parents to establish permanent workshops to produce APT devices. This will include sourcing equipment and materials, training parents in advance APT techniques, and establishing an income generation business to make furniture for local business and schools.

Improving access to diagnostic and rehabilitation services

AbleChildAfrica and USDC are currently seeking support to improve access to diagnostic and rehabilitation services for disabled children in Nebbi. Through the inclusive education project, we have identified that many disabled children living in Nebbi are not able to access medical assessments and screening, resulting in a lack of diagnosis and support. We have worked with USDC and local stakeholders to design a project which will pilot in-school assessments and a referral system, and support parents to expand their income generation activities

If you would like to learn more about, get involved with or provide funding for any of the above projects please contact Lauren Watters, Programme Development Manager, at lauren@ablechildafrica.org.uk

 

AbleChildAfrica’s capacity building of the team and ongoing sharing of ideas and approaches helped us come up with new ideas we would not have thought about, such as the Child to Child project
Dolorence Were
Director, USDC

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Changing Lives through Education

See how AbleChildAfrica’s education projects are making a difference to the lives of disabled children in Uganda.  This video focuses on the impact of our current inclusive education project using the child to child approach in Northern Uganda.