Friday, October 23, 2009

Juliet Tuhairwe, Headmistress of Ntinda School for the Deaf

Source Link - Juliet Tuhairwe, Headmistress of Ntinda School for the Deaf

Flavia Nalwanga

Tell me something about yourself
I am mother of three, teacher of English and Science and headmistress of Ntinda School for the Deaf. I am an old woman (laughs); all my children are away at university now, so I live by myself.

How did you get into the teaching profession?
I always wanted to be a teacher, so I started training as one in Shimoni, Grade Three from 1984 to 1986. I went back to Kabale for a little while but I came back and in 1990 I worked in a private school. Then I joined Mengo School for the Physically Handicapped where I worked till 1995.

Have you been working with special needs children since 1995?
In 1995, I learned of the United Nations Institute for Special Needs Education so I enrolled and trained there for two years. When I came out I went back to Mengo School for the Physically Handicapped, where I became acting head teacher in 1998 and confirmed head teacher in 1999 till 2002. I work for the government so I was transferred to Lubiri Primary School which is not for special needs children. I was there from 2003 to 2007. From there I requested for a position working with special needs children and that is when I was brought to Ntinda School for the Deaf.

What got you interested in working with special needs children?
Many people think that it is impossible to train and educate these children. Very few people take an interest in them and even the parents feel this way. I feel that these children are sidelined and often neglected, yet if given a chance they can be just as good as and at times even better than other fully functional people.

What are some of the challenges you have faced?
Working with the parents to help these children is one of the challenges because most of them are not interested. They bring the children to us and sort of dump them here till the end of the term without ever coming by to check on their progress yet these children need their support.

When you are not working, what do you do for fun?
I do not really have much time for fun because on the weekends I do the chores since I live alone and I also do shopping for the home and the school. But, I attend parties if any so that I can interact with other people. On Sunday, I go to St. Luke’s Church for the 9a.m to 11a.m service. I never miss.

What impact has working with special needs children had on you?
I have seen many children; those that have been neglected, with different kinds of disabilities and they all behave and react differently in different situations. Because of this, I have learned a lot in terms of appreciating people for who they are and not just what they can do. I have learned to be patient in interacting with people and it also makes me more receptive and appreciative of my own life.

Where do you see yourself in the long term future?
Being a public servant, once I hit 60, I will have to retire but retirement does not mean that I am tired. It just means that I have to start something new. I have always wanted to start my own school, probably a nursery or primary school since I like working with the little ones. But it is difficult to prepare for retirement on a school teacher’s salary and with all my children in university I really have a lot on my plate.