Lessons Learned: Providing Professional Development to Support Students with Special Needs in Sub-Saharan Africa, Uganda


  • Vickie J. Mitchell Sam Houston State University
  • Musimami I. Mubarak Kyambogo University
  • Kris Ward University of Mary Hardin-Baylor
  • Mary H. Dorman


Uganda, special needs, inclusion, professional development, international


The “Lessons Learned” article describes the journey of three American educators who worked to provide professional development in the Sub-Saharan country of Uganda. One was a missionary residing in Uganda, one was an education consultant, and one was a university professor. When the education consultant visited her missionary sister in Kampala, Uganda, they met the Inspector of Special Needs, which led to requests for professional development over a period of three years. The professional development was conducted for teachers in several primary schools, training for faculty at the Kyambogo University in Kampala, and a workshop for parents of special needs children in one of the primary schools. The American educators soon learned that providing professional development to teachers without access to the plethora of books and resources commonly found in the United States was not easy. They had to identify topics that were strategy related. Five models of professional development were used to meet the training needs. Upon request of the Ugandan partners, additional U.S. partners were identified, and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was developed. The article describes the cross-Atlantic MOU writing, the approval process, and complications resulting in the death of the MOU. The article identifies lessons learned throughout the professional development journey and recommendations for others who are interested in working with under-developed nations.