Activists to Gov’t: Address Challenges of the Deaf

An ongoing sign Language class in one of the Schools for the deaf in Uganda.

The UNRA probe commission on Wednesday queried the Head of Geo Technical Engineering Division at Professional Engineering Consultants (PEC), find Eng. Remegie Girukwishaka on abuse of tax payers’ money.

PEC took over from Gibb Africa Ltd in 2013 at the request of UNRA to offer consultancy services on Tororo-Mbale-Soroti roads.

According to the information before the commission, sickness a sum of Shs 180m meant for communication (printing reports, salve telephone) during supervision of road construction was instead used to facilitate training of UNRA staff (Godfrey Kaya and a one Luswata) abroad.

Eng. Girukwishaka admitted that this indeed happened claiming it was under a directive from UNRA.

“You misused government money meant for road construction and instead paid it for training your bosses. Isn’t this corruption?” asked counsel to the commission, Mary Kamuli Kutesa.

He further failed to offer a logical explanation to justify PEC’s extension of contract duration for the contractor Dott Services.

PEC which was the supervising consultant advised UNRA to extend Dott Services’ contract by 6 more years yet Dott had already wasted 18 months (initial contract duration) without work.

Scope of work

The witness explained that this was due to change of scope of work like widening the road from a 6-metre to 9-metre carriage way.

However in Dott’s bidding document, it clearly stipulated that works included widening the road and therefore the contractor knew this from bidding time.

The consultant (PEC) also recommended that Dott Services be compensated Shs 30bn for idle equipment with reason the contractor had fully mobilized which however wasn’t the case.

This was in addition to advance payments to the contractor adding up to Shs 11bn yet the contract was subjected to payment for work done.

“We compared our rates with 7 other contracts and found that the rates used were less. They were reasonable,” said Eng. Girukwishaka.

He later surprised the commission by testifying that PEC used market rates in Shs yet the contract signed with Dott was 80 percent in foreign currency.

This translated into a larger cumulative difference and gave Dott free money.

What seems to come out as odd is that Gibb, the consultant who preceded PEC had advised UNRA with more cost effective considerations backed by scientific proof.

However it’s alleged that the strictness and failure of some of UNRA’s unscrupulous staff saw Gibb as a stumbling block to their selfish interests with Dott Services.

Eng. Girukwishaka consistently claimed having not been privy to previous status reports by Gibbs.
Deaf Activists have urged the government to implement laws and policies on inclusive and special needs education to guarantee education for all.

While addressing the press in Jinja on Tuesday, viagra 40mg the Uganda National Association of the Deaf (UNAD) and Deaf Child Fund said government should increase subvention fund and ensure it is constantly given to the schools for the deaf on a termly basis.

Whereas the government of Uganda introduced the UPE and USE programs with a view of promoting education for all, it is faced with a disturbing reality of low enrollment and completion levels especially for special-needs children such as the deaf.

This is fueled by a poor learning environment that falls short of the needs of deaf pupils such as sign language interpretation services, shortage of special-needs teachers and special-needs schools.

During the press conference, Mideasinia Limio Frances, the Head Teacher Walukuba West Primary School, in Jinja district, said that given their unique experiences such as mobility and hearing challenges, special-needs children need boarding facilities, which are not available in most schools like hers.

Explaining the bias of parents against educating their non-deaf children she said, “Some parents look at it as wastage of resources to educate PWDs. Others think it’s a curse. They feel that they are being punished by these children’s presence which is not the case.”

In agreement, James Willy Mupere, the Head Teacher Kyomya Primary School, Jinja district, said parents have shunned educating their children with special needs.

With support from Deaf Child Worldwide (DCW), the Uganda National Association of the Deaf (UNAD) has since 2014, been implementing a three-year Deaf Child Education & Empowerment Project (DCEEP) in Jinja district.

In its short lifespan, the project has increased the number of children accessing and being retained in basic primary education to their completion.

Presently, the project benefits close to 200 pupils in the three mainstream schools in Jinja district; (Kyomya Primary School (82), Walukuba West Primary School (72) and MM Wanyange 07.

Pupils in these schools come from as far as Adjumani, Mbale and Gulu, underscoring the long distance children with disabilities (CWDs) have to move to the nearby school.

“Whereas this is encouraging, it speaks volumes about the long distances and absence of schools responsive to the needs of deaf and indeed children with different forms of disabilities countrywide,” said Hanifah Nalwoga, the DCEEP Project Coordinator.

One of the benefits of this project has been teaching sign language to teachers, pupils, and volunteers, which has bridged the communication gap and increased enrollment of special-needs children in schools.

“Before UNAD training, most of us were just gambling. You would meet a child and fail to understand each other. Now when our Deaf pupils talk, we understand. The children also understand what teachers say,” said James Willy Mupere, the Head Teacher Kyomya Primary School.

The project also sensitizes parents on the educational rights of their deaf children and lobbies duty bearers to implement legislations that promote deaf children’s right to education.

It is, however, important that the gains made by this project are sustained. In order to do this, Scovia Nabwire, a teacher at Kyomya Primary Schools said.

She noted that the government needs to motivate Special-Needs Education (SNE) teachers similar to how it inspires science teachers and teachers in hard-to-reach areas.

“Teaching special-needs students is very tasking. You have to stand the whole day, you have to be near the child, you use a lot of description and you end the whole day exhausted because of the extra effort that special-needs teachers put in,” she added.

UNAD activists in this regard urged the government to set up a program to retrain all serving teachers in sign language countrywide.

They called for the need to intensify parental involvement in the educating special-needs children.


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