The Government will ensure that all persons with disabilities are accounted for and fully empowered to participate in every aspect of life.
Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Labour and Social Protection, Simon Chelugui, said government recognizes disability inclusion as a prerequisite to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Speaking during the launch of CISCO Bridge IT Academy at the National Industrial Training Authority (NITA) in Nairobi, Chelugui said the Academy will contribute significantly in disability mainstreaming and skills upgrading for people with disability.
He said industrial skills training is an essential prerequisite for the creation of a productive workforce that contributes to the socioeconomic development of a country.
The CS said the government has put in place a number of programmes to enhance Kenya’s human capital development, among them the recognition of Prior Learning Policy which is aimed at appreciating skills that are not necessarily acquired in a formal environment.
Others are the Industrial Training and Attachment Policy which aims at recognizing the place of skills acquired by workers through skills upgrading programmes such as, apprenticeship and indentured learner ship, the establishment of the Kenya National Qualifications Framework which recognizes basic education, technical and vocational skills, higher education and skills training.
He said the skills upgrading programme involves training youth through pre-skilling in areas that require skills development intervention and up-skilling where the youth are equipped with superior skills to enable them remain in the job market.
“Youths are also equipped with re-skilling to acquire new skills that will enable them perform new roles,” he added.
The CS noted that the digital economy has become a powerful catalyst and driver of inclusiveness, as it has linked communities to create a global village, thereby, removing barriers to trade and encouraging information and knowledge sharing and job creation.
“In the last few years we have seen an increase in on-line jobs such as on-line taxi drivers, delivery service, online trading and purchase,” he said, and added that to date it is estimated that 677,961 people in the country are on-line digital workers.
He said digital skills and values are key to digital entrepreneurship, digital adoption and transformation, and added that the digital transformation process will progress speedily through the collective effort of all stakeholders both in the public and private sector.
The CS also said that the digital economy strategy seeks to transform marginalized groups into a digitally adaptive, skilled, and innovative workforce that will not only comprehend, adopt, and move with global trends but chart their own digital pathways towards inclusive growth and development.
“This strategy complements key government undertakings as spelt out in the national ICT policy, where the government seeks to create job opportunities and provide assistance to the disadvantaged, people with special needs, women and the youth to acquire ICT skills through e-inclusion and e-accessibility activities and programmes, he said.
The CS at the same time stated that the coronavirus pandemic has taught Kenyans to listen and embed the needs of people with disabilities, which he said will make Kenyans to create systems that are better for everyone and potentially more responsive in times of crisis, since people with disabilities suffer more, during times of crisis like the one Covid-19 pandemic has posed.
He expressed confidence that the partnership between Sightsavers International through inclusion works, NITA, Cisco and three talents, will be successful in promoting more inclusive societies and employment opportunities for people with disabilities, job skills training and improve access to education.
Chelugui also thanked all partners involved in the programme for their commitment to ensuring that disability inclusion is integrated into government policies, plans and programmes to enable the needs, aspirations and interests of people with disabilities are addressed.
On Monday this week the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, launched the disability awareness booklet, developed in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The Convention directs that ‘State Parties raise awareness throughout society, including at the family level, regarding Persons with Disabilities, to foster respect for their rights and dignity, and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that have an overarching principle of ‘leave no one behind’.
The booklet has been developed to guide in creating awareness on disability with an aim of demystifying disability, to reduce stigma and discrimination, and thus enhance social inclusion of Persons with Disabilities.
The CS said the booklet will be disseminated to sensitize the public on disability issues, advocate for the rights of Persons with Disabilities and to increase acceptance for their involvement and participation in national development.
He said the government has continued to improve data on Persons with Disabilities as evidenced by the Kenya National Housing and Population Census of 2019 that used the Washington Group of Short Questions in the Census.
According to the Census 918,270 people aged 5 years and above had a disability with a total of 9,729 persons having albinism.
By Bernadette Khaduli