Department of Community and Disability Studies
The department of Community and Disability Studies was started in January 1996 initially as a section for Social and Vocational Rehabilitation under the former Uganda National Institute of Special Education (UNISE). This section was upgraded to department status in January 1997.
The department has five (5) academic programmes, namely:
- Post graduate Diploma in Community Based Rehabilitation (PGDCBR) – 1 academic year,
- Bachelor of Community Based Rehabilitation (BCBR) – 3 academic years,
- Bachelor of Social Work and Community Development, now renamed Bachelor of Community Development and Social Justice (BCDSJ) – 3 academic years,
- Diploma in Community Based Rehabilitation (DCBR) – 2 academic years, and
- Diploma in Mobility and Rehabilitation (DMBR) – 2 academic years (currently being restructured).
These programmes focus on production of human resources in the fields of disability, rehabilitation and community development.
Background of the programmes
From a global initiative to local responsibility
In a policy document entitled World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons (1983), the World Health Organization (WHO) provided for the initiation of training in Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) at the Institute of Child Health (ICH) in the University of London. The training programmes initiated were primarily meant for developing countries and were offered at diploma, graduate certificate and master’s degree levels.
After a few years of implementation, however, it was realized that these programmes were not only too expensive for people from developing countries, but the context of the training was also not suited to the life realities of people with disabilities and their families in developing communities. More so, the majority of course participants were from developing countries. To address these challenges for the African continent, Uganda was identified and supported to offer CBR training because of its vibrant disability movement.
Consequently, in 1996 the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development in partnership with the Ministries of Health and Education and Sports and the Norwegian Association of the Disabled (NAD) supported the former UNISE to initiate the Post Graduate Diploma in CBR. The Department of Community and Disability Studies, initially called Department of CBR, was then created. Later the aforesaid ministries and the former UNISE were challenged by Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) in Uganda to start ordinary diploma programmes in disability-related studies in order to give opportunity to people with disabilities who did not have degree qualifications to enroll on the programmes to enable them participate actively in disability work in the country.
The Department of CBR therefore started the Diploma in CBR and Diploma in Mobility and Rehabilitation (MBR) in 1998 with an initial financial and technical support from the Norwegian Association of the Disabled (NAD), the Institute of Child Health in London and Tambartun Resource Centre for Visually Impaired Persons in Norway.
The Post Graduate Diploma and the two ordinary diploma programmes have run for over 10 years now and have produced over 200 and 900 professionals respectively. These graduates work with government CBR and other community development programmes at national and district levels as well as with civil society organizations. For the first six years students who enrolled on these programmes were from both within and outside Uganda.
Expansion of the training at the department
In 2006 the Department of Community and Disability Studies introduced the Bachelor of CBR and Bachelor of Social Work and Community Development degree programmes in response to government and civil society demand for CBR workers with relevant degree qualifications. This need is reflected in the following policy and legislation frameworks which call for training of human resources in the fields of disability, rehabilitation and community development:
- The National Social Development Sector Strategic Investment Plan, 2003-2008,
- The National Community Based Rehabilitation Strategic Plan, 2003-2007,
- The National Equal Opportunities Policy (2006),
- The National Policy on Disability in Uganda (2006) and
- The Poverty Eradication Action Plan, 2005-2008.
The degree programmes were developed through a collaborative and consultative strategy involving stakeholders from line ministries, local governments, organizations of and for people with disabilities and sister institutions involved in community development in Uganda. The pioneer students of these programmes graduated in February 2010. One hundred and seven (107) of them graduated with Bachelor of CBR Honors degree and eighty–two (82) with Bachelor of Social Work and Community Development Honors degree. Since then, over 1500 students with these degrees.
Pioneer graduates of Bachelor of CBR 2010
The department draws students for all its programs from within and outside Uganda and is proud to:
- Contribute to disability work in the continent,
- Be associated with the initiation of CBR Africa regional conferences and CBR Africa Network (CAN) organization.
Support supervision of students on Community Practice
While the students are out on community practice or fieldwork, the academic staff in the department follow them up to assess their performance and offer them support supervision and guidance. The department has standard supervision and assessment guidelines and tools for each field activity. Support supervision is a key requirement which the department adheres to.