As schools reopen for First term across the country, learners with special needs in Kaloleni Primary School in Ndalani, Yatta Sub-county have a reason to smile after well-wishers donated walking aids to ease mobility and provided food stuffs.
The pupils couldn’t contain their joy after people of goodwill led by Francis Kilango, a local leader, gave out two wheelchairs to the most deserving learners and several bales of porridge flour towards the feeding programme.
The School in the dry parts of Machakos County and whose parents have suffered over the years due to poor harvests, has 376 pupils, 22 of whom have special needs.
Most of them have old and damaged wheel chairs that cannot stand the worn out ramps, according to the school’s Head Teacher, Lucy Nderitu.
“The ramps are worn out thereby inconveniencing the physically challenged. Other facilities are almost dilapidated and we need more support to keep the learners in a better environment,” she said.
She said despite the challenges, two pupils who had special needs managed to score over 310 marks in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE), outperforming most other students.
“The talents some of these pupils have is motivating and can only be nurtured through the CBC curriculum. Unlike the current curriculum, the learners will have the opportunity to sharpen their skills in art and craft and use them to make a living,” said the Head Teacher.
Ndeitu called for more support to help in upscaling the feeding programme to two meals a day to improve learner’s health and also reduce school dropout rates.
Kilango said reintroducing the feeding programme was informed by the high poverty levels in the area, in which most families can hardly afford a meal due to poor harvests occasioned by erratic rains.
“The School needs a lot of support as most wheelchairs that the physically challenged have, are worn-out,” he noted.
Kilango appealed to the government to improve the school infrastructure as well as increase the number of teachers in the schools, for ease of provision of special care.
He said the area has several children in need of special care who are still hidden at home by their parents, adding that if there was more support it was critical in enrolling more of such students to the school, to brighten their future.
“A lot is required to motivate these learners and we hope the government could give the school grants, to improve the learning environment as well as address some of the special needs that the pupils need,” he said.
He was accompanied by the Proprietor, Thika Nursing Home, Vasisht Shah, who said they will organize an outreach programme, where they visit and screen all the children for eye problems.
Vasisht added that they are raising funds to uplift the standards of the school and ensure all the physically challenged pupils have the necessary special equipment, to enhance their activities.
He also called on parents not to hide their physically challenged children, saying such would limit their opportunities to achieve dream goals.
By Muoki Charles