Depending on the level of intellectual or physical impairment People with disabilities, have the ability to learn. They are capable of developing skills throughout their lives. They have a wide range of abilities, and there’s no way of telling at birth what they will be capable of as they grow up.
It is important not to compare such children with normally developing siblings or other children with the same conditions because their learning pace is always different.
Following the 1994 Genocide, the Rwandan Government focused its efforts on reconstruction and development of the education sector; this has played a significant role in supporting disabled people from an early age.
Although the progress is slow, the government is fully committed to meeting their educational needs. This is evident through the scope of legislation and policies passed by the current government of National Unity.
The Rwandan constitution as passed in January 2007, relating to equal opportunities for persons with disabilities and Articles 11-13 provide for equal rights in education hence
‘Special Education’ is a strategic priority for the Rwandan Ministry of Education which has started ‘Inclusive Education’ as their ideal education model.
However, many disabled students still do not enjoy their right to association and inclusion in many learning institutions
Aphrodise Kabalisa a blind student pursuing a four year Degree course in Education at Kigali Institute of Education (KIE) says that socially integrating with other students is a big challenge.
“It’s hard not associating with other students, we need them to help us out in the library and in studying for our exams” Kabalisa said.
Emmanuel Imberimana is the Resource Room teacher at KIE and has over ten years experience working with the disabled. He says that there is a Resource room at KIE that contains all necessary equipment to facilitate blind students to access information.
“Computers that are fully connected to a specially used internet are installed to enable blind students to access any information they need. We also equip them with recorders and a more advanced learning material called the “Victor Reader” which translates recorded material into text when connected to a computer,” Imberimana said.
He further added that new students, who have never used equipment before, easily adapt to the system and catch up with their studies. In fact they usually pass and challenge other students in the final exams.
Today, the Ministry of Education continues to provide care and educational support for disabled people.
Primary and secondary schools and institutions of learning like Gahini Secondary School in Mutara, Gatagara School for the physically and mentally impaired, and Butare School for the Deaf are examples of institutions which educate the disabled.
In addition, the Ministry of Local Government and Community Based Development (MINALOC) provides a grant for The Federation of Associations and Centres for Disabled People in Rwanda (FACHR) who have at least 12 existing centres or associations that provide a strong entry point for the disabled in Rwanda.
Since 2002, the Federation of Associations and Centres for Disabled people in Rwanda (FACHR) has always encouraged people with disabilities to be united towards advocating for the rights of the disabled.