The Ministry of Education has reiterated its support and commitment to make the school an open and friendly place for all children including those living with disability, to achieve quality education for all.
State Department for University Education and Research Principal Secretary (PS) Simon Nabukwesi said that access to education especially for learners with disability and special needs continues to face unexplored roadblocks and in order to achieve inclusive quality education it is imperative to focus on the practice of special needs education in Kenya.
The PS said that the Special Needs Education Policy Framework of 2009 aimed at providing a direction in bringing into school populations that otherwise had been excluded.
Speaking on Wednesday at the Kenya Institute of Special needs in Kasarani during the UBUNTU Conference on Special Needs and Inclusive Education 2022, Amb Nabukwesi said that the government of Kenya in collaboration with various partners has made efforts to expand learning opportunities to all children.
“Education is a fundamental right that is enshrined in the Constitution of Kenya 2010. In realizing this right, the government of Kenya has ratified International Treaties as well as enacted national policies on quality education for all,” he said.
To support the provision of education for all children in Kenya, Nabukwesi said that the government continues to dedicate massive resources to the education sector.
“According to the 2011 World Report on disability, there are between 93 and 150 million children under the age of 14 globally with disabilities. The Education Commission Report (2016), estimates that there are close to 65 million primary and secondary school age children with disabilities, and that many of them are out of school,” he said.
He added that the recent report “Towards Inclusive Education: The Impact of Disability on School Attendance in Developing Countries,” that explored the impact of disability on school attendance in 15 countries highlighted school access to be a significant challenge for most children with disability, and disability to be a critical factor which affects school attendance.
“I must emphasise on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which recognizes the right of persons with disabilities to be included in the general education system, to have access to free and compulsory primary education, as well as to secondary and higher education without discrimination,” said the PS.
He explained that the convention provides guidance on how to make the educational system inclusive adding that under the Convention, we are required to take measures to facilitate the learning of sign language, braille and other alternative modes, means and forms of communication. It affirms the obligation of training and employing qualified teachers and providing all the support required to facilitate persons with disabilities’ effective education.
“The fundamental right to education is where learners are put in a position to access and complete quality education programs with success. We must be mindful that an inclusive, just, and fair society can only be achieved through collective action,” said the PS.
He highlighted that the comprehensive nature of the solution will require significant investment, restructuring of roles of many in the educational sector, a massive professional and leadership development strategy, restructuring of funding, new accountability mechanisms, major institutional change within government, counties, schools, and renewed relationships between schools, parents and communities to bring the plan to a desirable end for everyone.
“We must remember we work every day to educate the future citizens, to make sure that every child, from a disadvantaged family or from a family with economic difficulties, a child with learning challenges, a child with different abilities, will be accepted and valued and benefit equally from our education system,” said Nabukwesi.
He said that he is aware that tremendous efforts have been put forward by various community-based organizations, local or international organisations towards special needs and inclusive education saying that all these efforts are valuable contributions for a better inclusive education.
“Indeed, we are in this together: UBUNTU – I am because we are! I implore the UBUNTU Conference participants and delegates to give us a roadmap for the next 20 years, thus re-imaging inclusive education as a mechanism towards education for all,” said Nabukwesi.
By Joseph Ng’ang’a