UWEZO Youth Empowerment

Aniyamuzaala James Rwampigi

James is an Inclusive designer specializing in public policies, accessibility standards and assistive technology. He provides technical assistance and advice on the application of the Inclusive design principles in design of projects, programmes, research work and public policies. He is supporting the implementation of the youth with learning difference project in Rwanda in partnership with UWEZO youth empowerment. James is pursuing a PhD Inclusive Design and Creative Technology Innovation at SMartLab, University College Dublin.

Matching the mismatch, Social Justice and Young people with learning differences in Rwanda.

The Rwanda social justice project is led by Aniyamuzaala James Rwampigi and UWEZO Youth Empowerment Rwanda in partnership with the SMARTlab. By working together with young people with learning differences in environments outside of formal education systems in Rwanda, this project aims to understand the interactions among young people with learning differences, aspects of their day to day life, and their participation in society including education and youth organisations.

The first phase of the project started with the situation analysis of the young people with learning differences and their environments in Rwanda. Informal interviews and questionnaires, stories and data were gathered from young people with learning differences between the ages of 18 to 30 years old. The young people with learning differences were defined as those who are out of school because their needs are not addressed by the existing formal education system. Data was also gathered from the organisations of and for the young people to find out how they include them in their programmes. The research study report provides evidence of the mismatch between the needs of young people with learning differences and their environments including the formal education system. Education and training institutions do not inclusively design strategies and practices to address their needs. Human and financial resources are limited to address the challenges faced by young people with learning differences.

A photo of a group of young people taken from behind. They are sitting on chairs and in wheelchairs while two people who are gesturing stand in front.

A group of young people gathered for a workshop related to inclusion at UWEZO in Rwanda.

The study recommends the development of inclusive platforms, spaces, guides and tools that facilitate participation of young women, girls and men with learning differences in the development processes and programmes at all levels. Supporting self-advocacy for diverse young people with learning differences in livelihood, health and education programmes is another recommendation of the research study. Advocacy for inclusive policies and initiatives which take into consideration the voices and needs of girls, young women and men with learning differences should be prioritized. The research study initiated a basic training on how to develop a business plan for young people. Follow-up work will include the development of inclusive and accessible training materials for creating a youth-friendly business development plan. Inclusive design training materials for youth organizations, youth cooperatives and young people with learning differences are being created to establish a culture of inclusive practices and inclusion of young people with learning differences in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes at all levels.

Based on the situation analysis research study results, UWEZO, with the support of the IDRC, is working on the development and adaptation of inclusive design guides and training modules relevant to the Rwandan context, which will support the ongoing work of the youth organisations and movements to be more welcoming and inclusive of youth with learning differences.