Issues concerning persons with disabilities have to be put at the forefront if the East African region is to accomplish the sustainable development goals, Inter-University Council stakeholders have said.
This was during a stakeholder’s forum by the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) to discuss quality assurance guidelines on disability and other special needs in Kigali last week.
“Let’s not have issues of disability hidden. They should be visible. IUCEA plans to collect data related to Higher Education and make this one of the items foregrounded so that we lead the way in terms of advising the East African community on what is happening,” Professor Mike Kuria, the deputy executive secretary, said during the workshop.
Kuria called upon stakeholders to use their various skills, such as supporting staff mobility from one university to another and training inexperienced teachers to cater for students with disabilities and special needs.
He also suggested the need to intensify research for common sign language in the region, citing Uganda as a leading country in the region in the area of sign language interpretation.
“Identifying issues of sign language is one area where research is very much needed. Members ought to participate in this area of research to support persons with disabilities and special needs.
“The East African Quality Assurance Network and the forum are aimed at looking at quality in higher education in the region. We can use such available opportunities to train teachers in a way that persons with disabilities can learn,” he said.
Dr Abdallah Baguma, the director of academic quality at the Higher Education Council, hailed IUCEA for involving all stakeholders in catering for persons with disabilities, but noted that the guidelines in each country are timely as they all have areas of focus in education and cited Rwanda as an example.
“The guidelines take forward our aspiration. With the leadership in the post Genocide era, the government ensured an inclusive system by focusing on education accessibility based on merit and to make sure that if there are any challenges, the government can mitigate those challenges,” he said.