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Education PS urges bodies to draw fresh roadmap for special needs learners

Presidential Working Reforms Party on Education official Collins Odote with a pupil living with a disability during a Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) recommendations forum at Kisumu Girls High School on November 11, 2022. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

Education Principal Secretary Simon Nabukwesi has challenged special needs education entities to develop a 20-year roadmap for the sector.

The PS spoke when he opened a two-day first Ubuntu Special Needs and Inclusive Education conference that ended on Thursday at Kenya Institute of Special Education (KISE) in Nairobi.

According to Nabukwesi, the present roadmap does not reflect the current needs and is way below what is in many other countries.

‘‘For example, we do not train specialised personnel to support children with disabilities in class,’’ said Nabukwesi.

He said there is also a need to implement what is in the Constitution so that no one is left out because failure to do that has seen people hide children with disabilities in their homes.

To support the provision of education for all children in Kenya, the government, he said, continues to dedicate massive resources to the education sector.

According to the 2011 World Report on Disability, there are between 93 and 150 million children globally who are under 14 years.

The Education Commission Report (2016), estimates that there are close to 65 million primary and secondary school-age children with disabilities and that many of them are out of school.

Nabukwesi said that a  recent report that explored the impact of disability on school attendance in 15 countries highlighted school access to be a significant challenge for most children with disability.

He was making reference to the report dubbed 'Towards Inclusive Education: The Impact of Disability on School Attendance in Developing Countries."

Nabukhwesi said that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognises the right of persons with disabilities to be included in the general education system, to have access to free and compulsory primary education, as well as to secondary and higher education without discrimination.

Further, he said the Convention provides guidance on how to make the educational system inclusive.

"For example, under the Convention, a government is required to take measures to facilitate the learning of sign language, Braille, and other alternative modes, means, and forms of communication," he said.

It affirms the obligation of training and employing qualified teachers and providing all the support required to facilitate persons with disabilities’ effective education. 

‘‘Access to education especially for learners with disability and special needs continues to face unexplored roadblocks. In order to achieve inclusive quality education, it is imperative to focus on the practice of special needs education in Kenya,’’ said Nabukhwesi.