Management of Special Needs and Inclusive Education in Uganda and Ethiopia

  • John Baptist Okech Uganda Management Institute
Keywords: Inclusive Education, Disability, Children with Disability, School Practice


This study is a comparative analysis of inclusive education in Uganda and Ethiopia, as available to students with disabilities. Educational provision for students with disabilities is essential if Uganda and Ethiopia are to attain education for all goals. However, despite a series of strategies including legislation to support inclusion of people with disabilities, majority of children with disabilities are still out of school. This article seeks to explain why achieving inclusive education has remained elusive. It begins with an overview of global and national definitions of 'inclusive education'. The reality of schooling options currently available to pupils with disabilities is discussed, followed by an exploration of how stigma, inadequate training and institutional barriers have rendered these provisions inadequate and inequitable. Two case studies of inclusive education programmes in Ethiopia and Uganda are presented and recommendations made based on their successes. When one looks beyond the existing policies and declarations and views the reality of primary school classrooms and their surrounding communities, it becomes clear that achieving Education for All, more specifically for children with disabilities, involves much more than establishing policies and placing pupils in classrooms. Achieving true inclusion in Uganda and Ethiopia will require action that is rooted in the conviction that inclusive education is not merely about access, but about changes in society and systems. The author concludes that inclusion will not be achieved by merely focusing on access, but must as well involve changes in society and systems and a critical reflection on the objectives of inclusive education for learners with disabilities.