Project ProfileMentoring staff to develop services for people with communication disabilities in Uganda

Service provision for people with communication disabilities in Uganda is extremely limited, despite estimates that half of all children with disabilities may have a communication disability. Communication disabilities can have educational, economic, health and social consequences for the individual, their family and society as a whole.

Manchester Metropolitan University has partnered with Makerere University, supported by the Nuffield Foundation Africa Programme, to promote the development of independent and sustainable services for people with communication disabilities, in Uganda.

Principal InvestigatorJulie Marshall

  • Start Date1 September, 2011
  • End Date31 May, 2015

Project TeamDr Julie Marshall, Professor Juliet Goldbart and Dr Jennifer Read.

External Providers and Collaborators

This is an international project involving contributors from other countries.

The participants in the programme are the graduates and staff of the Speech and language Therapy degree programme at Makerere University, Kampala, and two Kenyan Speech and Language Therapists.

The Project is being managed by Dr Julie Marshall (MMU) and Dr Mary Wickenden (Disability and Development Researcher), supported by UK and Ugandan Project Advisory Groups.

In-country training will be provided by MMU and external staff. MMU staff include Dr Julie Marshall, Professor Juliet Goldbart, Dr Jen Read and MMU PhD student, Isla Jones.

Other External Contributors include:
Ruth Afako, Janet Beck (QMUC), Rebecca Churcher, Louise Cotton Nyanalie Dassanayake, Himali De Silva, Lorraine Herring, Janet lees, Julia McGeown, Julie O’ Key Nana Akua Owusu, Sarah Raheja, Karen Wylie.

Projects Aims

The overall aims of the project are to:

  • Support the first two cohorts of graduates of East and Central Africa‚Äôs first Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) degree programme, at Makerere University, to become competent and independent clinicians, able to support the development and education of subsequent students
  • Provide SLT staff at Makerere University with the knowledge and skills to run a sustainable, appropriate and well managed Speech and Language Therapy degree programme

The original project was planned to involve:

  • Visits to Kampala, to provide graduate training, academic staff support and conference presentations
  • An online mentoring project for graduates and academic staff

The project will also involve monitoring, evaluation and research elements.


Project progress - July 2012

Two visits to Kampala had been carried out, with graduates, undergraduates and staff participating in training covering a number of topics, including mentoring, peer support, clinical supervision, conference presentations and clinical audit. Staff have been supported in curriculum revision and course delivery. Each graduate and member of staff has been assigned a remote mentor, with whom they maintain contact, using Skype, email, instant messaging or phone with one of two pairs being lucky enough to meet in person! An ongoing challenge has been consistent and affordable internet access for the mentees.

Project Advisory Groups have been set up in the UK and in Uganda. Ugandan representation includes a person with a communication disability and a parent of child with a communication disability. Abu is a young man who suffered a head injury, with a resulting communication disability. He is a great advocate for speech and language therapy and speaks of the difference it has made to his life. He also feels strongly about the need for increased knowledge and understanding by the public, about communication disability

The next visit took place in November 2012, where the focus was on updating on clinical skills and knowledge and on preparing the second group of graduates to have mentors. The collection of clinical audit data is beginning to build evidence about services and the need for them. A full report on the November 2012 visit can be found here.

The fourth visit took place in July 2013, during which the team spent two weeks with Ugandan speech and language therapists and, amongst other activities, facilitated a 5-day workshop for mentees on the project. A report on the visit can be found here.

The fifth visit took place in March/April 2014, during which a number of individual mentoring and support sessions took place, whilst PhD student Ryann Sowden discussed her research project with the group. A full report can be found here.

A sixth visit took place in July 2014, and during this visit Dr Marshall worked with participants on an individual basis, rather than providing formal training. Plans and options regarding a final visit were also made. A full report can be found here.

A paper about the project has been published in the RCSLT Bulletin: Rochus D. Lees J. & Marshall, J (2014) "'Give me someone who has been here': Experiences of mentoring SLTs in East Africa", RCLST Bulletin, June.

The project was extended to May 2015. The final visit of the project took place in March 2015, during which visits were made to a school and a nursery to work with children with communication disabilities and to trial resources developed during the project. A report on this visit can be accessed here.

The project is now complete. Read the summary of the final report.

Papers will be submitted to journal later this year and a paper has been accepted for the 6th East African SLT Conference, in Arusha, Tanzania, in December 2015.


Rochus D. Lees J. & Marshall, J (2014) "'Give me someone who has been here': Experiences of mentoring SLTs in East Africa", RCLST Bulletin, June.

Wamukoota J (2014) "Makerere university students play their part in ICP 2014", RCLST Bulletin