Sunday, June 4, 2017

Sure Prospects

A couple of days ago, we went to Sure Prospects, which was a school that is for both students with special needs and without. We went and talked to a head teacher who shared with us the details of Sure Prospects and answered any of our questions.

After that, we went and toured the school. It had many buildings/ classrooms surrounding an open area that was full of students exuberantly running around. We then went around to all of the different classes and got to interact with the kids and see what they were being taught. We went all the way from the first year of primary school class to the last year. On all of the walls, there were posters full of diagrams and information that related to what they would be learning that year in school. The teachers would sometimes point out different kids in the class with certain special needs, and each class had the kids all completely intermixed. The kids with who were differently abled were learning right next to the kids with other different needs and with kids without special needs. All of their needs were accommodated for, and it was really cool to see. In America, kids with disabilities are often separated from the general population of students, which inhibits their learning as they can learn from other students. 

Before lunch, Ellie and I went to do our project, which is to teach 50 girls about reproductive health and how to use the reusable feminine hygiene kits that we would be distributing. We had help from some of the MUBs girls, and it went really well. It is a very good feeling to be able to to give out the products to girls who otherwise wouldn’t have gotten them. 

Later, after lunch, everyone headed down to the fields to play soccer. Some people played some group games like “Little Ball Walker”, and others talked and got to know the student more. These kids were all so happy and energetic, and everyone felt so happy to be able to spend the day with them. One girl came up to us and gave us a note that thanked us for coming and said how much she appreciates us. It was so heartwarming. It was also interesting because I think many of us came in with the presumption that the education here in Uganda would be lacking in many ways, but this school had pretty good classes that were teaching all the children so much.

This school did face its challenges, like funding and having enough staff, but it was also doing so well and providing so much for its students. In regards to sustainable development, I think without the proper funding and resources, it will not be able to continue being sustainable. Even if it continues to be donor funded, that is not reliable, and it needs to shift towards being funded by the government. However, it is doing a good job and the school in general is sustainable, especially socially. 

Questions: 

How do you think that having and integrated class room with multiple students with varying needs may affect the learning environment and atmosphere?

What are some things that you noticed that could be improved in their school?

Why do you think there aren’t more schools like this, in either Uganda or even the U.S.?

How might Sure Prospects strive to be more sustainable?

11 comments:

  1. Sure Prospects was a very nice school where students of all abilities were succeeding. I think that the integrated classroom was beneficial for the learning environment. It allowed the students with special needs to compete with the other students and it also allowed the students without disabilities to develop a positive awareness of students with needs. The most inspiring story that was told was the story about the girl without arms who competed in the national handwriting contest and was awarded. In many of the classes, I also saw that the highest marks which were displayed were some of the student with disabilities. These students at sure prospects are given chance to compete like they would in the real world, a chance they would not get if they attended a school specific to their disability. The non-disabled students also experience an environment where they see disabled people succeeding. In this way they receive a positive image which they would not see if the school was integrated. The only improvement that I think the school could make would be to provide future support to the students with disabilities after secondary school.( I understand that this would only be possible with more funding and resources.) Sure Prospects is unique in its approach to education and is recognized by the ministry of education for doing so. Schools like this are scarce because of the stigma associated with disabilities, even in the United States. I think that Sure Prospects exemplifies the inclusion that belongs in all societies and cultures. They accept all students as hey are and give each and every one a chance at a quality education.

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  2. I completely agree with your feelings about SURE Prospects, what a great place! I also think that it would be a really great thing for the school if they became funded by the government because not only would it make the school sustainable, but it would also work towards a more socially inclusive country. With having classes integrated with abled and disabled children, the disabled children are able to learn social skills to prosper in normal society and the abled children get to know disabled children and see that there is no difference between them and someone who is disabled. Again, this works towards social inclusion, one of the pillars of sustainable development.

    I think there are not more schools like this because there is this idea that disabled children can't keep up or that they may not be capable of what abled children are capable of, which is just not true. They may need some one-on-one attention or special accommodations, but they are completely capable of the same things everyone else. This is especially true when they are integrated with able children because it has been shown that when they are separated, they do not excel as much.

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  3. I think using an integrated classroom is a great way to teach children because it teaches them about differences, whether they have any or not, at a young age, and that's important to the future of reducing inequalities and spreading awareness and acceptance. I think the main reason other schools haven't adopted programs like this is because the assumption is that students with special needs are best "dealt with" in isolated classrooms so they get an education with students with special needs and students without are able to not dragged down by them. This assumption is completely class and I hope other schools begin using integrated programs for the benefit of all students.

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  4. Great summary Sarah Rose! I really enjoyed going to Sure Prospects and I think it is a very wonderful school. In my opinion I think having an integrated learning environment with varying needs has many advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is that it allows students with disabilities to feel like they fit in. Like you said in your summary, students with disabilities in America are often separated from their peers. Separating students from their peers often creates a negative stigma about students with disabilities making them feel ashamed of having a disability. A disadvantage of having an integrated learning environment is that students with severe mental disabilities may not get that one-on-one assistance they would get in a smaller separated classroom.

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  5. From what I have gathered, people with disabilities are kind of outcasts here in Uganda. It seems, from what I have heard, that these people are disregarded or ignored. Because of this, I think that Sure Prospects is doing a great thing by immersing students with and without special needs. I think this not only will give students with special needs a haven or safe space which will allow them to blossom to their full potential, but it will also encourage the students without special needs to accept, respect, work with, and love those students with special needs. This will help both groups of students to improve their skills for the work force and for life! Plus, it will help to reduce the stigma around disabilities in Uganda. I did notice, however, that some of the teachers needed to work on their rhetoric. I heard several teachers referring to students without special needs as "normal students" or "ordinary". I think this should be addressed because words like this just reinforce the incorrect idea that students with special needs are "weird" or that they have a problem. I think Sure Prospects could work on their rhetoric and attempt to use more politically correct language in order to empower students with and without special needs.

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  6. I really enjoyed reading your post Sarah-Rose! Visiting Sure Prospects was a highlight of mine throughout this trip. The integration of students with varying needs is an ideal example for equitable and efficient education. It also teaches students at a young age that we are all equal, regardless of our own individual abilities. In the U.S. there seems to be a misconception that this is not the case. The only problem I can initially think of with Sure Prospects is that some students with greater needs may not receive as much specialized attention, however, being in classrooms with peers that reflect all aspects of abilities is also incredibly beneficial to their learning, as well as to everyone around them.

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  7. Specifically addressing your last question, to become more sustainable, they need to focus mainly on the economic side of the organization. I think that the concept that Sure Prospects has is sustainable but the actual action is not sustainable. They are an inclusive, eco-friendly school that first started out focusing mainly on children with special needs and has grown to educate children with or without disabilities. However since they do not receive any funding from the government, the economic/financial situation is a bit of a struggle in order to pay for all the necessities. By continuing to fight for government aid, they are bringing awareness to the school and what the school does for both disabled and non disabled children.

    I would have to say that the accomplishments that they have achieved based off of their situation are outstanding. This is a place that has touched my heart and I loved every second that I was there. The teachers and workers genuinely care for each one of the students with their whole heart and aren't just teaching for the pay.

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  8. Wonderful post Sarah-Rose! I know that visiting SURE Prospects was definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip. Like you, I absolutely adored how integrated the classrooms were and I found it so heartwarming to see how all the kids played together outside of class as well. In response to some of your questions, I think that the school's model is a wonderful way to enhance the learning environment by disintegrating the stigmas surrounding people with disabilities, however I would say that this setup is most likely more time and resource consuming, which is unfortunately why it has not been more widely adopted. However, my hope is that with time, all schools will begin to follow in SURE Prospect's footsteps because this type of social interaction both challenges students with disabilities to reach their full potential as well as educates the students without to be kind and accepting of people from all different backgrounds.

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  9. Great post Sarah-Rose! SURE Prospects was one of my favorite days, for a number of reasons. From either U.S. perspective or Ugandan, SURE Prospects is really standing up to social stereotypes. I think it's sad that the U.S., being a "first-world country," has not developed similar type schooling for all those with disabilities. I really loved hearing about the individualistic approach because even for students without disabilities, that is often the best for learning. My mom works with special needs kids, and I hear the stories of the craziness when all kids are trapped in one room, with not enough staff. Both the U.S. and Uganda have work to do when it comes to accepting those with differences. I believe that it starts with understanding and patience. I hope that SURE Prospects is able to influence other schools to follow its lead.

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    1. Also, social inclusion is a big part of sustainability. Therefore, SURE Prospects is progressing towards a greater sustainable development by including those with disabilities, not shoveling them off to the dark corner of society.

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  10. The integrated classrooms are a huge benefit to the learning atmosphere. Students with disabilities are able to learn alongside their peers, and this allows them to learn at their own pace. This is different than in many US schools where students with disabilities are grouped into one or two classrooms and all taught at the same pace - one that might not match the ability level of the student. Sure Prospects' approach to education is not only beneficial to students, but to the country as well. Some of the faculty mentioned that their school had a big influence on some of the new policies made by the Ministry of Education, and I thought this was very interesting.

    I think the reason that there aren't many schools in the US that take this approach to learning is because there are still many stigmas and misconceptions about students with disabilities. The way that Sure Prospects sets up its classrooms definitely contributes to the sustainable development of education systems both in Uganda and in the US. Integrated classrooms promote social inclusion by helping to alleviate some of the stigma surrounding students with disabilities. These classrooms also help to concentrate teaching resources and make staff assignments more efficient, helping the school remain economically stable.

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