UBa Student Union Leaders empowered to join Students with Disabilities to push for Inclusion

Recently elected Student Union leaders of the University of Bamenda (UBa) have been trained to advocate for disability inclusion in the University. The capacities of the Student Union leaders from the different Faculties and Schools alongside their peers with disabilities were built on advocacy strategies in a two-day workshop organized by the CBC Health Services’ Socio-Economic Empowerment of People with Disabilities (SEEPD) programme. The workshop that took place at the Baptist Center Main Hall from December 21-22, 

SEEPD Programme Education Advisor explaining workshop objectives to participants

Welcoming the students to the workshop, the SEEPD Programme Education Advisor, Mrs. Fobuzie Bridget on behalf of the SEEPD Programme Manager, among other things, said the aim of the workshop was to build their capacities on disability concepts and advocacy strategies so that they should go back and facilitate disability inclusion in all the University services.

Mrs. Fobuzie told participants that the SEEPD Programme in its collaboration with the University has done a lot to enhance disability inclusion but there are still gaps seemingly resulting from non-participation of students to push for disability inclusion. She told students with disabilities that they have a significant role to play to advocate for their inclusion but that this cannot be possible without their non-disabled peers. She noted that it is for this reason that they were invited for the training to be empowered with skills and strategies to push for disability inclusion in the University in an assertive and systemic way.

Presenting on Advocacy strategies, the CBC Health Services Policy Advocacy Advisor, Dr. Foyeth Eugene guided the participants to identify areas that will require them to apply the strategies learned to advocate for effective disability inclusion to become more effective in the University of Bamenda. After reflections, the students realized they will need to advocate for a disability service and improvement in the following areas; pedagogic practices, access to supplementary services, access to Infrastructure and build-up environment, and hygiene and Sanitation in the University toiletry system.

Mme Angeline Evina explaining functioning of associations of students with disabilities in state universities

For her part, the National President of Associations of Students with Disabilities in State Universities, Mme Angeline Evina told participants especially those with disabilities that their destiny is in their hands when it comes to their inclusion in University activities. She revealed to them that the take off point for successful advocacy for disability inclusion is taking positive actions to make their presence felt in the University. She cautioned them that success does not lie in making only requests and demands but by being dynamic, being committed, and actively participating and contributing in the University’s activities.

During the workshop, participants also received knowledge on disability concepts and models, barriers to inclusion in the University, national framework promoting inclusion in Cameroon and disability etiquettes.

In his closing remarks, the SEEPD Programme Manager, Mr. Awa Jacques Chirac called on the participants to go back and be change makers in the University of Bamenda. He told the Student Union leaders that given the opportunity they have to serve their peers, they should use the knowledge gained in the workshop as motivation to implement resolutions arrived at. This, he said, will improve the wellbeing of their peers with disabilities and enable them to participate effectively and actively in the learning process and community life of the University.

For their part, the students appreciated the SEEPD Programme for the workshop, saying it was an eye opener and promising to go back and use the knowledge gained to influence change towards the effective inclusion of students with disabilities in the University.