Biology lesson is on and Form Three students at Menengai High School in Nakuru are converged at the laboratory.
Kenneth Muchori, is seated pensively at the front row as he fumbles over an audio recorder hanging from his neck. Ken, as he is fondly known, has multiple disabilities - he is totally blind, has a nerve problem and cannot read or write in braille.
He is also physically challenged and has difficulties walking. He, instead of writing notes, records lessons with his audio recorder for purposes of revision.
Ken, however learns in a regular school where integration is slowly taking root, but with massive teething challenges that have seen him only being examined once since he reported to school two years ago.
“I have only written the History paper since I reported to Form One because I do not have a specialised teacher to read for me. I however attend almost all lessons but challenges remain huge in even understanding sciences and practical lessons,” Ken said.
The 20-year-old developed multiple disabilities after receiving measles vaccination at 9 months when he contracted malaria. Ken’s health deteriorated after the jab, rendering him to lose his sight. His nerves too were paralysed.
Determined to learn and lead a normal life, his parents enrolled him at Menengai Integrated Primary School where he eventually scored 225 maks, results his teachers said were exemplary, given his condition.
“It has been a challenge because Ken requires specialised attention and that is why we have always advocated for his learning in a day school next to home where he can get assistance easily,” Ken’s father, Antony Githae said.
While sitting his KCPE examinations, Ken had specialised examiners who read out to him questions and wrote what he said on paper.
“It was a simple arrangement where examiners were dispatched to the school. One read out the questions, one filled them out and the other supervised if all that was said was put on paper,” Mr Githae said.
Mr Githae said when Ken’s KCPE results were out, they sought help from the Ministry of Education to have the boy enrolled in a nearby day school close to home.
“The boy was finally admitted at Menengai High School after we had a meeting with an officer from the county’s Ministry of Education, former teachers and special needs teachers and the teachers at Menengai High School,” Githae said.
Ken was allowed to do what he was able to academically and without unnecessary pressure, given that his case was a special one and that there was no institution that could fully handle his multiple challenges.
However, his dream of becoming a journalist are slowly fading.
“We do not have trained special needs teachers; we too, do not have the facilities and classes are congested. The school has a population of 1,300 students and most have up to seven streams. Special need students are sometimes slow and need specialised training,” Githae said.
School Principal Richard Ngatia said while Ken is in Form Three and has to choose subjects of interest, he has difficulty in compulsory subjects like Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry and Physics, which too need a specialised teacher to handle.
“While integration is advocated for in schools, learning institutions should also be facilitated to handle special needs learners and funding put in place for facilities to enhance learning of students with disabilities,” said the school principal.
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