Disability awareness workshop on University Campuses – Africa component (Burkina Faso)

CIRAD is currently completing the Africa component of the project “Towards an Inclusive Culture and Pedagogy“. Together with the Catholic University of West Africa (UCAO), whose international rectorate is located in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), CIRAD-IFCU has set up a campus disability awareness workshop at the end of September.

This workshop has been an opportunity to bring together professors and university officials (from various units of UCAO), representatives of local NGOs (Association des élèves et étudiants handicapés du Burkina, Union Nationale des Associations Burkinabé pour la Promotion des Aveugles et Malvoyants) and of the international NGO Humanity and Inclusion. A representative of the State of Burkina Faso was also attending the workshop (Ministry of Women, National Solidarity and Family).

The focus was first on understanding the concept of disability, barriers to accessing higher education, and identifying students’ special needs.

NGOs presented their work to promote access to higher education, and to improve students’ integration. Students’ mobilization has played a key role in some cases in Burkina Faso, particularly in public universities.

Academic leaders shared the types of support offered within their institution: guidance, health, school life, with an emphasis on “Universal Design for Learning (UDL)“. Hospitality in universities is a central issue, since it has a major impact on the social integration of students with disabilities.

In response to the difficulties addressed during the sessions, some recommendations were mentioned for a three-step awareness:

  • Upstream of the university course (communication strategy, establishment of specific commissions for students with special needs);
  • During the university course (setting up of accessible university buildings, presence of assistants adapted to the type of disability, adaptation of the duration of the training);
  • Downstream from the university course (support for professional integration, making employment of disabled people easier in Catholic universities);

In conclusion, awareness and training should always be encouraged for students in general, teachers, staff and leaders of the university, associations involved in the university life, and for students with disabilities themselves.

CIRAD thanks the UCAO team for its welcome and for the organization of these two-day workshops, as well as all the speakers and participants.