USIU-Africa hosts University of Rwanda for a benchmarking visit
By Elizabeth Wanjiku
After implementing successful inclusion strategies and interventions at USIU-Africa since 2018, the university recently hosted a delegation of five visitors from the University of Rwanda. The purpose of their visit was to conduct a benchmarking assessment aimed at learning about best practices in inclusive education from various institutions, including USIU-Africa, KU, and KISE.
The team from the University of Rwanda, consisting of the Dean of the School of Inclusive Education, the School Engineer, and staff responsible for Student Welfare, Operations, Academic Training, and Research, were on campus on Monday and Tuesday this week. The team kicked off its visit with a courtesy call to the Interim Vice Chancellor, Dr. Lola Odubekun, followed by a meeting with the Disability Inclusion Committee to gain insight into USIU-Africa's journey towards inclusivity. During this meeting, the Committee presented the USIU-Africa Disability Inclusion Policy for 2022, elaborating on its development in 2018 and the reasons for its review in 2022.
The visiting team also had the opportunity to meet with various stakeholders actively involved in supporting disability mainstreaming practices. These stakeholders shared their efforts in ensuring accessibility and successful inclusion practices. The highlight of the visit was a tour of the Disability Inclusion Lab, where they were introduced to a variety of services offered by the University. These services included providing information about assistive technology (AT) devices and software, offering training on how to use AT devices and software, making IT accessible to individuals with disabilities, conducting research on the intersection of disability and IT, loaning AT devices to students and employees, conducting accessibility audits of IT systems, developing policies and procedures to ensure IT accessibility, and advocating for the rights of people with disabilities in the IT workplace.
During their visit to the Disability Inclusion Lab, the delegation witnessed a demonstration of how assistive technology enhances accessibility of learning content and course materials for students with disabilities, even during examinations and assessments. They interacted with various assistive technologies, such as the embosser machine, optic reader, and swell form tactile graphics machine.
On the second day of their visit, the delegation toured the Student Center and Library. They were delighted to observe inclusive spaces that were accessible to learners with various disabilities. Additionally, they engaged in discussions with the Maintenance Officer and commended the efforts to automate services and systems at USIU-Africa. One member of the delegation expressed their intention to advocate for similar automation in their own campus.
At the Library, the team recommended that USIU-Africa take advantage of the Marrakesh Treaty, which facilitates access to published works for individuals who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled.
The team also met the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program team to learn more about how USIU-Africa had implemented the Scholars Program over the past three years. In her remarks, the Program Director, Ms. Linet Aguko gave the team an outline of how the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at USIU-Africa was structured, highlighting some of the milestones that the Scholars Program had been able to achieve.
The delegation had the opportunity to meet with all team members and received insights from the Director of the Scholars Program. Prof. Evariste Karangwa praised the team, expressing his admiration for their work.
The University of Rwanda is a public, multi-campus institution offering a wide range of academic studies. Established in 2013 through the merger of previously independent public institutions of higher education, UR runs undergraduate, postgraduate, and certificate courses in the STEM and non- STEM fields at its six colleges (Science and Technology, Medicine and Health Sciences, Business and Economics, Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, Education, and Arts and Social Sciences).