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.
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.
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. To date over 1811 children with disabilities have been enrolled into project schools since the pilot. We are grateful for the technical expertise provided by the Child to Child Trust in delivering this project.
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 work with 9 teacher mentors who will provide 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 mentoring and the creation of Individualised Learning Plans, we expect to see improvements in reading, writing and confidence for the 45 children participating.
Improving Access to Diagnostic and Rehabilitation Services Project
Through the inclusive education project, we 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. Many children with disabilities are left unidentified and untreated, preventing many from being able to attend school at all.
To address this, AbleChildAfrica and USDC launched a new project in 2017 to develop a low-cost disability screening tool and teacher’s user guide to better identify children who need professional medical assessments and assistive devices. This project will facilitate sustainable access to healthcare services and equipment by training teachers to use the tool during in-school assessments, working with local stakeholders to improve the referral systems and support parents to expand their income generating activities. An Impact Report will be produced to advocate for the government to adopt and share the tool across schools in other districts for the effective inclusion of children with disabilities in schools.
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.
If you would like to learn more about, get involved with or provide funding for any of the above projects please contact Lauren Watters, Head of Programmes, at firstname.lastname@example.org
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
How you can help
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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.