Boy with multiple disabilities finally gets help to go to school


Deputy Principal Karen Technical Training Institute Norah Ananda (in blue skirt) welcomes Peter Njenga (in red jumper) who has multiple disabilities to the school [George Njunge, Standard]

In the leafy suburbs of Karen lies a little known school, a home to pupils living with multiple disabilities. The Karen Technical Training Institute for the deaf last week got a new member after community members from Kiambu County escorted one of their own for admission.

Peter Njenga, 13, who has lived with multiple disabilities in Kiambu, and has not been to any school before was escorted by his village mates to the institution for admission and training.

The institute’s administration received the boy, who was escorted to the school by villagers from Ndeiya, Limuru.

The villagers, including Nelson Munga, said Njenga had been roaming in the village streets with no one to take care of him.

Munga mobilised people to get Njenga a school, but the boy was unable to get admission into many of the institutions they visited.

Proficiency class

Munga and a few other villagers were told of the Karen institute.  “The school admitted Njenga into what they called a proficiency class, where an individual learner goes through basic training like using the toilet and speech therapy before admission for a particular course,” said Munga.

He said there was joy as the villagers helped Njenga to get to the school after buying him clothes, toiletries and bedding. “Some broke into dance to celebrate the milestone,” said Munga.

Rosemary Wambui, who was part of the team that took Njenga to the school, said it was a relief for the village. “We had tried all we could. We did not want to see him roam in the shopping centre again, but we were helpless. That is why we have all come here to celebrate the milestone,” Wambui said.

Norah Ananda, the TTI deputy principal, said the institute was initially a preserve of the deaf, but had since grown to admit students with varying degrees of disabilities, including multiple ones.

“We admit deaf and other disabled children from all over Kenya. We also practice inclusion by admitting hearing students who are very instrumental in our training,” said Ms Ananda.

TTI is a government institution started in 1990, and was offering basic education. It has since progressed to a vocation training centre for children with disabilities.

She said learners went through a two-year training for craft level and three years for diploma, with artisan courses taking two years. “The students pay subsidised fees to cater for meals and boarding. We offer the rest free of charge, as our teachers are paid by the government,” Norah said.

They sit examinations administered by Kenya National Examination Council before going for attachments.

Ananda said attachments help the students to familiarise themselves with challenges of the course and field work.

Several challenges

The deputy principal said they had several challenges, including lack of trained personnel and even when they have, there is a challenge speaking to deaf students.

“We get competent trainers, but on arriving here, they are met by deaf students that require special communication skills, especially the sign language, and this is a serious challenge here although they perform well in the circumstances,” Amanda said.

The other challenge is lack of trainers in special education, and especially the proficiency students or those with multiple disabilities.

Norah said her best moments were seeing such students leave the facility with education and courses that help them tackle their day today challenges.

“At times I shed tears of joy when a student leaves this place having been transformed from a destitute person to a person bubbling with energy, hope and transformation,” Ananda said.

The villagers from Ndeiya are now waiting to receive Njenga from Karen in the next two years.