School of Inclusive and Special Needs Education

Welcome message

The office of Dean of the School of Inclusive and Special Needs Education has the pleasure of welcoming you all. The school is one of the two Schools that constitute the University of Rwanda-College of Education (UR-CE). It was established in 2014) with the objective of addressing the growing demands of the Rwandan society, on issues related to needs of children and youths with disabilities and other Special Educational Needs in Rwandan schools and the general Community.

Though the school continues to be preoccupied with its initial stages of developing its capacity to deliver quality services long awaited for, procuring training resources, developing teaching programs and planning etc.., its input to the College of Education’s mission to positively change the landscape for the Rwandan high education sector, remains the foundational obligation.  

The school is thus focused on reinforcing Inclusive Education within the Rwandan Education system through sustained and contextualized capacity building, framed within the College of Education’s responsibilities as a Higher Learning Institution, including: Training quality educators, research and community support, and networking with partners in Inclusive & Special Needs Education.

The office of the Dean and all the staff of the School of Inclusive & Special Needs Education will continue to foster interactive collaborations with resourceful stakeholders, and to welcome constructive contributions to far-reaching and sustainable solutions to the Special Educational Needs of children and youths in Rwandan schools and communities. 

Dr Karangwa Evariste

Dean, School of Inclusive & Special Needs Education

Back ground context

Full participation of all Rwandans including those with disabilities and other Special Needs has increasingly dominated the preoccupation of the Rwandan Development programs since the proclamation of the 2003 National Constitution (Articles 40 & 76), and developing skills for the previously marginalized groups is clearly stated in the Government Seven year plan (2010-2017).These political engagements to support and include those wit disabilities are reiterated by 9 ministerial decrees of September 2009 as well as the Ministry of Education’s SNE/IE Policy and Strategic plan (2013/14-2017/18).

Hence, the University of Rwanda- College of Education (UR-CE) being the only public Teacher Training Institution, has been mandated under the statute law No. 49/2001 of 27/12/2001 and law No 20/2008 of 18/07/2008, with the obligation to respond to this important national call, with appropriate training programs and support services that would generate a range of expertise required in communities, schools and the general education system.

It is on this background that the School of Inclusive & Special Needs Education was established by the University of Rwanda, and was approved by its Academic senate of 6th May, 2014, as one of the three schools in the College of Education at that time, and its Dean was appointed on 11th/08/2014. Recruitment of its academic and administrative staff, developing its infrastructure, procurement of resources have equally followed, and the 1st cohort of B.Ed (Special Needs Education Students) were admitted in September 2014.  

More undergraduate and postgraduate programs are also underway in progress, and it is envisioned that by the beginning of next academic year (2015-2016), the school will be running about 4 programs and training an average of 300 students.

The school has been conceived within the visionary national development agenda, focused on developing and reinforcing Inclusion of all Rwandan vulnerable groups, and it is thus expected that it will make its contribution through sustained and contextualized capacity building, research, community support and networking with other key stakeholders within and outside the country.

Services offered by the School of Inclusive & Special Needs Education

The College of Education has been at the forefront of Special Needs/Inclusive Education developments since 2000, collaborating with both the Ministry of Education, Civil Society and all stakeholders in varying initiatives and activities that regard education and support services for young people with disabilities and other Special Educational Needs. The Task Force for the Development of Inclusive Education in Rwanda (TFDIER) for example, was commissioned by the Minister of Education in UR CE on 24th May, 2007, and gave rise to yet more impetus in public Institutions of Higher Learning in admitting and supporting students with disabilities. By 2013, over 150 students with severe sensory and physical challenges were supported in various public Institutions of Higher Learning. It is following the successful accomplishment of this mission that the UR senate of 7th February 2015 approved the Dean’s proposal to develop the whole university policy and guidelines on inclusion of students and staff with disabilities before the beginning of the next academic year 2015-2016. The current responsibilities and services offered by the school of Inclusive & Special Needs Education include   

  1. Designing and delivering training programs geared towards developing personnel required in schools, the general education sector and Rwandan community.
  2. Designing and delivering support services to students with special Educational Needs in the College of Education, and in Institutions that are in partnerships with the University of Rwanda
  3. Initiating and/or developing innovative collaborative and networking with stakeholders functioning in the sector of Inclusive Education & related services in Rwandan communities or/and public sector.

In essence, though focused on inclusive education–related services, the role of the School is widely encompassing including capacity building through training programs, support services to both students and staff, research and community support, and the school administration ensures quality in planning and delivery of the services.

Support services to educators and students with disabilities

i.jpgThe Resource Room is part of the School of Inclusive and Special Needs Education (SISNE) within the College of Education. The College of Education (then Kigali Institute of Education) officially started to admit students with visual impairment and hearing impairment in 2008 with the support of the Ministry of Education, and it was essential that these students receive adapted services and resources to enable them to access quality education. The resource room was then set up to provide these services and resources and its role is to ensure equal access to education for all students, including those with special educational needs such as disabilities. The Resource Room has the following objectives:

 

So far, since its inception in 2014, SISNE has developed five training programs that lead to various levels of exit wards and as a means of addressing strategically all the levels of capacity development at the initial stages of Inclusive Education development as indicated in table below:Text Box: A 5th level student with Visual impairments is doing his work an ordinary computer with specialised software to study & do his homeworkTo provide support to students with disabilities through an assortment of assistive devices to enable them access to a range of educational services at equal levels as their peers with­out disabilities. < >To advise, support and liaise with lecturers and admin­istrative staff to enable them provide the assistance required by students with disabilities and other special educational needs.

To advise the institution on policies and strategic planning in relation to equal opportunities and standards and needs of Students with disabilities and other Special Needs.

To provide appropriate conditions for students with disabilities during their studies, examinations, welfare and other educational undertaking on the college campus.

To establish links with other institutions with similar support services to ensure updated best practices.

The College of Education is legally and officially mandated as the only public teacher training institution, to organize and develop teacher training for the country. Therefore, developing and delivering quality teacher training programs feature as the most prominent core focus among other academic responsibilities of the higher Learning institution in the University of Rwanda (UR). In other words, the College is also both the prompted and obliged to respond to the rising demand for skills demands of schools and the general education sector, that are increasingly required to address the needs of learners with special educational needs, the task that falls under the responsibility of the School of Inclusive & Special Needs Education (SISNE).

Training programs approved by the University of Rwanda academic senate

Programs title

Aims & objectives

Observations

1. Continuous Professional Development Diploma in Special Needs Education (CPD SNE).

400 hours or 40 Credit Units (CU), is intended to develop awareness and basic skills of educators in the field, in handling educational needs of learners with various disabilities & other SENs.  

The program was developed and delivered in collaboration with Handicap International since 2010.

2. Diploma in Education (Special Needs Education) [Dip. Ed (SNE)]

The 2400 hours, or 240 Credit Units (CU), is intended to develop teaching skills of educators who would handle learners with various SENs up to 9 Year Basic Education level.   

The four programs have been submitted to the High Education Counsel

3. Bachelor of Education (Hons) (Special Needs Education) (Primary

Teacher Education) [BEd (Hons) (SNE) (PTE)]

The 4800 hours, or 480 Credit Units (CU), is intended to develop Teacher Training College (TTC) tutors’ abilities to train primary school teacher’s abilities to handle learners with various SENs.   

4. Postgraduate Diploma in Special Needs Education (PgD SNE)

The 1200 hours, or 120 Credit Units (CU), is intended for education sector cadres at various levels and professional responsibilities, who are increasingly required to address a range of demands by schools, parents, and communities  of learners with various disabilities & other SENs.

5. Master of Education in Special Needs Education   (MEd SNE)

The 1800 hours, or 180 Credit Units (CU), is intended for education sector professionals in varying administrative responsibilities, who are increasingly required to address a range of demands by schools, parents, and communities  of learners with various disabilities & other SENs.

Future prospects

The SIE & SNES plan marks the initial stages of responding to SEN in Rwanda, and it is envisaged that the successful implementation of the initial plan will lead to the sustainability of the subsequent training programs and related services, paving a firm foundation for the school/institute of SNE/IE in Rwanda.

Among the components of the training programs and services, will feature those related to the educational needs of street children, learners who are exceptionally gifted and talented, learners who are traumatized and others. It is envisaged that father earnest research and consultations will be pursued so that a stronger and complete program will be developed, addressing all educational needs children and youths in Rwanda and even the sub-region where these services are known to miss out too. 

Besides, previous UR CE-based research had indicated that women in Rwandan communities play an important role in the lives of children with disabilities and other educational needs. In daily family interactions as mothers, sisters, unties or Grandmothers, they are accorded a key culturally responsibility in children’s development. Therefore, gender studies, guidance and counseling are recognized as important components that will be accorded a privileged position in the training programs, leveraging on the already established initiatives in the center for gender studies in UR CE.            

< >The job perspectives of the trained SNE/IE Educators

Basic education levels of schooling, from Nursery to the end of primary education to 12 years of age.

Secondary education levels of schooling, from senior one to senior six where he is prepare to embrace professional training.

Train teacher trainees at the TTCs and CoEs levels.

In Centers for Educational Assessment and Rehabilitation Services (CEARS) envisioned in communities and in proximity to schools of learners with SEN. 

Importance of expertise and support of international partners like EFWI and the University of Landau

Preparing the mentally-challenged children for the reintegration into the mainstream schools

Offering training in SNE/IE to local educators. 

In 2013, the first group of 12 children was transferred successfully to the local school in Kibilizi. Through a developed curriculum and the full participation of parents, community and district, the children developed a wide range of practical skills. This and the intensive awareness rising work of the project helps to overcome negative cultural beliefs, and opens doors to the full participation of the community.

Through Dr. Geiser, as the SNE expert, providing consultancy and evaluation skills, EFWI supported the project. Together with the staff of the project Dr. Geiser developed successful strategies and yearly activity planning, and in close consultations with UR CE, especially in the area of teacher training curricula planning and delivery. The growing contacts between UR CE and the projects consultant have prompted a feasible engagement of collaboration with the German EFWI and University of Landau, whose cooperation is strongly hinged on for the achievement of the planned School for Inclusive Education and Special Needs Education Services in UR CE.

Conclusion

It is thus firmly maintained that the future of Inclusive Education development in Rwanda is dependent on how the SNE training programs and support services are innovatively initiated, how the support collaboration with resourceful stakeholders is managed, and how the general Rwandan community is enabled to assimilate and support these as their own. It is only then that far reaching solutions to the range of inherent limitations to SNE developments will be addressed to impact positively on the entire Rwandan education system. Through the support of the envisioned, SIE & SNES therefore, UR CE is capable of initiating a sustainable educational innovation that will go a long way to transform the country’s education sector.   

Read this document for more about UR -CE Resource centre