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Persons with disabilities prioritized in ECDE teachers’ recruitment

Nakuru County Government will give Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) first priority when recruiting 100 Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) teachers in the current financial year.

County Executive Committee Member (CECM) in charge of Education, ICT and e-Government Ms. Zipporah Ngugi said the decision to prioritize the PWDs was part of Governor Susan Kihika’s commitment to comply with Persons with Disabilities Act 2003 and also promote inclusivity and non-discrimination in education. The Act provides that at least five per cent of government jobs be given to persons living with disabilities.

Ms. Ngugi assured that all teachers in all ECDE centres operated by the County government will undergo training on how to attend to children with special needs adding that the County government was committed to giving PWDs a chance to acquire skills required in the job market.

“Employers should start looking at individuals’ abilities over their disabilities,” said Ms. Ngugi.

Ms. Ngugi observed that sign language interpreters should be deployed in schools to ease the flow of communication adding that qualified ECDE teachers with certificates in Sign Language would also have an added advantage during the recruitment.

The CECM made the remarks during a meeting with representatives from the Kenya Institute of special Education (KISE), Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) Organization and the Deaf Child Worldwide Organization (DCWO) at her office.

Ms. Ngugi however regretted that despite people living with disabilities acquiring education, they were still victims of discrimination and stigmatization in workplaces as they were being seen as different and unable to perform certain tasks required in the workplace or regular schools.

She said employment of ECDE teachers qualified as sign language interpreters was not a favour as there is an Act of Parliament which provides a mechanism for ensuring the rights of such persons are upheld and respected.

Ms. Ngugi expressed her desire to see all children in ECDE centers, regardless of their abilities, impairments, and social backgrounds, are treated without any discrimination and urged parents to enroll their children with special needs in school, noting that they would get full support to realize their potential in life.

“We will ensure contractors building school infrastructure factor in disability-friendly designs,” assured Ngugi.

The CECM also urged parents to ensure that their children were screened as early as possible so that if they are diagnosed with a hearing problem, they would be immediately supported to get integral skills such as speech and language.

The society needs to invest in an environment where PLWDs could have access to opportunities that make social, economic, cultural, and political citizenship available to them, added Ms. Ngugi.

The County is partnering with the Kenya Institute of special Education (KISE), Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) Organization and the Deaf Child worldwide Organization (DCWO) in a six-month pilot study aimed at interrogating factors that result in poor academic performance in learners with hearing impairments.

The study will also explore ways of improving academic performance and will initially target ECDE learners at Pre-primary (1- PP1) level.

According to the 2019 Population and Housing Census, 918,270 people aged five years and above had a disability. The most common types of disability were mobility, with 385,417 cases, visual (333,520) and albinism (9,729).

Additionally, collaborative research titled, “Bridging the Gap-Examining Disability and Development in Four African Countries” showed that in Kenya, 30 percent of surveyed disabled children in urban areas did not attend school, compared to 5 percent of non-disabled children.

By Esther Mwangi

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