By Francis Emorut
Persons with disabilities (PWDs) have appealed to Government to consider them as a first priority when giving students loan scheme for university education.
President Yoweri Museveni recently launched the students’ loan scheme at Kyambogo University and the first beneficiaries are 1, 000 students beginning this financial year 2014/2015.
“I want government to give us persons with disabilities the first priority for students’ loan scheme,” Aisha Namugga, 19, said.
Namugga, a Senior Six student at Kibibi Parents Secondary School, feels they should not be subjected to the same procedures and conditions of accessing a loan as their able-bodied counterparts.
Her sentiments were shared by Diana Nakasinde who is deaf and studying at Kayunga Vocational School.
She pointed out that people like her (PWDs) should not be made to compete with the able-bodied people by way of using the same criteria of selecting successive applicants for the students’ loan scheme.
The PWDs made the remarks during a meeting for children who are disabled at Hotel Africana in Kampala.
Diana Nakasinde uses sign langauge to communicate during a meeting for persons with disabilities (PWDs). PHOTO/Francis Emorut
The meeting was organized by Plan Uganda in conjunction with Uganda Society for Disabled Children aimed at hearing the voices of children with special needs as they shared their life experiences in the communities they live in.
According to the guidelines, only Ugandans who have been admitted for accredited courses in institutions recognized by National Council of Higher Education (NCHE) are eligible to benefit from the loan scheme.
The arrangement is intended to provide financing to Ugandan students who have qualified for higher education in recognized institutions of higher learning but are unable to support themselves.
Deborah Kirabo, the project coordinator participatory school governance project Plan Uganda, said children with special needs should not be neglected but instead accorded special respect and treated with dignity.
David Akampulira, the external secretary at the National Youth Council in the ministry of gender, labour and social development, said that government recognizes PWDs and that the special needs education programme was introduced at Kyambogo University.
He also informed the audience that PWDs are represented in Parliament.
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Students loan scheme: PWDs want to be given priority