Mrs Museveni demands ease of disability access in school buildings

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Education and Sports minister Janet Museveni has demanded that infrastructure in schools must be developed to meet the accessibility needs of physically disabled persons.

Mrs Museveni, who is also the First Lady, expressed disappointment that many buildings in the country still have no ramps to provide accessibility to the disabled.

"I am concerned that despite the existing legislation and policies of eliminating physical barriers to buildings, there are still many buildings in our country that are inaccessible and that hamper the mobility of people with disabilities," Mrs Museveni said.

She was speaking at the handover of an assortment from the Turkish Corporation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) to the schools to benefit children with special needs and disability in Ntungamo District on Thursday.

"Please, always remember to keep in mind that every structure without a ramp signifies a door that closes accessibility for those living with disabilities," she added in a speech read by the State minister in the Office of the Vice President, Ms Diana Mutasingwa.

In 2007, a Ugandan ministerial report found that 95% of the buildings in Kampala were not accessible, despite the fact that several laws emphasised the need to have an accessible physical environment, such as the Persons with Disabilities Act and National Policy on Disability, both of 2006.

The situation has not changed much since, with a 2022 report saying majority of the buildings do not have ramps, designated parking yard and hand rails to ease movement of persons with disabilities.

The Building Control Act 2013 provides for access to a public place, service for PWDs to enable them participate in activities with dignity,

independence, and safety.

But many buildings still lack ramps, squat toilets with grab bars and tactile markers to guide PWDs.

Ms Museveni also challenged school administrators to concentrate effort on identifying persons with special education needs at an early age to adopt the right learning approaches and receive the necessary support.

"Make concerted efforts to identify the learners with special needs education at an early age so as to support them to develop and advance their education, promote the existing social inclusion equality policies in order to address the economic barriers that affect the education of children with disabilities," the minister said.

The Education minister also tasked the school administrators to implement the peer support programmes to minimise biases that lead to the maginalisation of children with disabilities in schools by their peers."

With the social influence religion and cultural leaders have in modern society, the First Lady urged them to help in supporting parents to encourage children with special needs to attain education.

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