Educational Partnership of the Universities Makeni and Würzburg

The educational partnership between the Universities of Würzburg and Makeni is the result of a former project that supported the Hosetta Abdullah Memorial Special Needs School. The school is one of the few that cares for children with intellectual disabilities. In March 2014, the association had initiated a cooperation between the school and the Chair of Special Education IV - Education for Mental Disability at the University of Würzburg. Within the framework of this cooperation, students of special education who are already in their higher semesters of study should regularly be placed at the school for an internship. The trainees should support the teaching staff there with current teaching methods and teaching aids in the field of special education. In the first half of 2014, two female students from the University of Würzburg had already spent a three-month practical semester at the school in Freetown. The internship was assessed extremely positively by both the school management and the interns, as well as by the Chair of Special Education in Würzburg. Unfortunately, due to the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, the project could not be continued as planned in the second half of 2014. The school had to cease operations for a period of more than one year.

 

The programme was resumed in 2018: Among other things, two committed students of special education at the University of Würzburg tested a new teaching method (MGML) and brought the former sewing class back to life, which enables the school to earn a small, regular additional income by selling handmade bags. The trainees also organised a lecture for the school's teachers by the head of the Sierra Leone epilepsy association. Both sides profited from this exchange. In the reports of the trainees, however, it became clear that a new approach had to be developed in Sierra Leone in the area of special education: Therefore, a reorientation of the project was planned: The former intern Vera Brunnhuber, who now works at the Chair of Special Education in Würzburg, has carried out a comprehensive analysis for the exchange programme. The aim is to organise a regular exchange of knowledge between the University of Würzburg and the University of Makeni in Sierra Leone.

 

In summer 2019 we can report on the successful completion of the "Summer School" at the University of Makeni.

 

The aim of the two-week program was to disseminate a basic understanding of special education and to transport it to educational institutions that had previously not been inclusive, in order to ensure that people with disabilities are taught (inclusively). On the one hand, the parties involved in the program were coordinated by the association, on the other hand, substantial parts of the costs of the training measure were provided by the association. The program called "Special Education - Main facts, specific needs and practical basics for teaching all students" took place on the UNIMAK campus in Makeni.  Among the participants were 31 teachers from conventional, as well as specialized schools, who were allowed to attend the training free of charge (including board and lodging). Among the speakers were Markus Bernard, teacher of special education and deputy director of the Graf-zu-Bentheim-Schule Würzburg, Andrew Dumbuya, director of the St. Joseph's School in Makeni and lecturer at the University of Makeni, Siddie Kanu and Samuel D B Sesay, both teachers at the St. Joseph's School in Makeni and lecturers at the University of Makeni, and Michel Chab, a special education teacher who had already worked for the association at the Hosetta Abdullah Memorial Special Needs School. The theoretical superstructure was always linked to actual cases from the classes of the participating teachers. This simplifies the practical application of the theory. The topics covered ranged from epilepsy to autism, developmental disorders and learning disabilities. To provide additional motivation, a visit to the St. Joseph School for the hearing impaired was organized. At the end of the program, the teachers thanked the participants for the new perspectives and approaches and for the profound knowledge.