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Children with deafblindness access education in East Africa

7 June 2017

a woman is holding a young boy who's wheelchair bound

Funded by Big Lottery Fund, the project was implemented as a regional initiative across Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. As this project comes to an end, we would like to celebrate some of the successes and inspiring stories with you!


What is Community Based Education (CBE)?

CBE is the provision of basic education in a home setting. It is accompanied by a holistic rehabilitation programme for children with deafblindness. These children are starting their educational development from the earliest stages, having never attended school. Before the primary curriculum can be addressed, many of them will need to be taught how to understand the world around them, as well as how to communicate with their family and teachers, and how to carry out Activities of Daily Living, such as washing, teeth brushing and dressing themselves. Objects of reference are used to support this learning, such as in the picure below.


a shelving unit which contains household utensils including soap, a cup, tissue, medicine and a toothbrush

To identify priority areas for learning and development, the child is assessed and Individual Development Plans (IDP) drawn up with milestones set on communication, mobility, and orientation to monitor the child’s progress. The CBE curriculum is tailored to the unique needs and skills of each child. Where appropriate, hearing aids, wheelchairs, glasses, walking sticks and other sitting and standing aids are provided, as well as educational and play materials.

A school which has a sign language alphabet on its outside wall

Some successes and key highlights of what was achieved through the East Africa CBE project:

  • 1,144 children with deafblindness across all three countries supported to access education and noting improved quality of life.
  • 1,072 Special Education Needs (SEN) and mainstream teachers trained with skills to best support children with deafblindness.
  • 1,126 parents empowered to meet the needs of their child with deafblindness.
  • An innovative video training tool was developed and disseminated to parents and teachers so they are able to review the training and provide regular support at home.
  • A new SEN policy including CBE drafted in Kenya and Uganda.

The following story demonstrates the impact of the Community Based Education project on children and families in East Africa:

“SI has proven that education can be accessible to all children. This is a major success and achievement.” -  External Project Evaluator

From Depression to Hope | Luwero Region, Uganda


Nakityo is smiling and enjoying herself whilst playing games with her husband and five children

Nakityo and her 5 children live in Luwero District, 25km north of Kampala, in the central region of Uganda. Nakityo has very limited vision. Three of her children - Robert (7), Dalton (4), and Luwle (2) - are deafblind. Their condition is likely to have been caused by Rubella (German measles) as the vaccine has not been introduced in Uganda’s routine immunisation programme.

Nakityo and her children have been subject to stigma, discrimination and marginalisation. ‘Life was difficult for me. I thought it would be better to go with poison and kill ourselves.’

Sense International began supporting Nakityo and her family in 2014 when the Community Based Education project started. Alice and Enid, two of SI’s home educators, have supported Robert, Dalton and Luwle to learn with tactile play materials and communication methods. Robert is very curious and has responded positively to the home-based education curriculum. He is visited by a mainstream special educational needs teacher once a week for three to four hours for additional learning support. The SI Uganda team are currently helping Robert to enrol in a local school so as to transition to formal education.

Nakityo is holding her young child

Nakityo no longer thinks about death, but about the future. She has many dreams and aspirations for her children. ‘Robert will be a mechanic as he is always making of fixing things. I would like Luwle to be a teacher as teachers did not let him come into class because of his disability’.

Read more stories of hope from the East Africa Community-Based Education programme.

Sense International would like to thank the Big Lottery Fund for their support in this project. With the help of our donors and supporters, we are able to give some of the most marginalised and excluded children the opportunity to achieve a brighter future.

First published: Tuesday 18 June 2013
Last updated: Friday 6 December 2019