Special needs learners’ plea to CS

June Masimoni, a Class Eight pupil with visual impairment, from Kilimani Primary in Nairobi, during the launch of competence based curriculum targerting visually impaired, at MFI Document Solutions in Nairobby Education CS Amina Mohamed, on Wednesday, February 20 2019. [David Njaaga,Standard]

Her speech could have passed for just another moment in the short programme of an event presided over by Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed.

Amina had set out to dispatch some 21,987 early grade mathematics learners’ books and teachers’ guides for special needs learners.

The books are part of the Government’s plan to implement the new competency based curriculum being rolled out to cover early years education.

But things moved from happy faces to misty eyeballs and stoic silence when June, a Standard Eight visually impaired student at Milimani Primary School, picked the microphone.

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“As children with vision impairment we undergo many challenges,” said June.

She added: “We must always have a desk mate to help us even read a book and this is very sad because it means they first help us to read after that they can now read for themselves.”

Almost simultaneously

Amina, Basic Education PS Belio Kipsang and Senate Education Committee chairperson Chris Langat, turned their heads, almost simultaneously, towards the direction of the pupil.

“Even during examinations in a class of six, we may only have one person to assist us and we always fail to complete examinations in time and this really annoys me,” June said.

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“We should find out what is wrong with examinations. To ensure all children get equal opportunity.”

The small tent in little known MFI Document Solutions office along Mombasa Road, where the meeting was taking place, went silent — June had raised a serious point to ignore.

MFI has partnered with ministry to distribute the books across the country.

And when Amina stood up to speak, she said: “I have been moved by the story of June.”

She invited June and her teacher to explain the issues to her in detail so they can address them urgently. “This is really touching,” said Amina.

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Kipsang asked Kenya National Examination Council to establish why administering exams to special needs learners is a problem.

In last year’s KCPE, 2,495 special needs candidates sat the exams with the best scoring 446 marks.

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Amina MohamedEducation Cabinet SecretaryGovernmentMilimani Primary SchoolStandard EightPS Belio KipsangChris Langat