Texas Tech Education Team Travels to Uganda

Educators and students aim to assess educational opportunities and empower women.

A team of eight educators and students from Texas Tech University’s Virginia Murray Sowell Center for Research and Education in Sensory Impairment will make a nearly two-week trek to the African country of Uganda, Oct. 20-31. The Sowell Center is housed in the College of Education. The motivation for the trip is twofold, said Amy Parker, research assistant professor in the center, and project leader. One purpose builds upon a series of training and research activities in the United States with young adults who are deaf-blind, Parker said. To that end, the team will attend the Helen Keller World Conference in Kampala, part of the effort to train young adults with disabilities to be leaders both in the U.S. and internationally. “There will be 15 countries represented at the conference,” Parker said. “The themes of the conference focus on education and empowerment of people around the world who are deafblind.” Parker explained that in many countries, people with disabilities still have no rights, and that sometimes they are seen as second or third class citizens. She said if a child is born a female with disabilities, then the child may or may not be seen as a valuable human being. “Just because someone is female, or has a disability – or both – doesn’t mean they don’t have a need for education or technology or health care,” Parker said. The second purpose of the trip is to visit two schools in Uganda to develop strategic plans around personnel preparation for teachers and students and to assess IT infrastructures for potential distance education coursework. The team will visit the Uganda School for the Deaf in Ntinda, the first school for the deaf in Uganda. There are several deafblind students there, as well.  After the conference, part of the team will travel to northern Uganda to visit ChildVoice International, a school for child victims of war. Parker said some of the students were child soldiers, others were raped and abused, and some became mothers while still children themselves. ChildVoice provides education, training, counseling and a home for those who cannot return to their former homes. The team members who visit the school will evaluate the potential for a partnership that would provide teacher preparation and high school diplomas. The team has a blog on which they will post photos, videos and other highlights of the trip. The group even has its own theme song, “Adventure of Friends,” written by composer Crystal Morales, who happens to be deafblind. CONTACT:  Amy Parker, research assistant professor, College of Education, (806) 742-1997 ext. 248, or parkeamy@gmail.com.