One in every 10 Kenyans below the age of 21 is disabled, a survey has revealed.
This is as a comparison with the global estimates of about two out of 10 persons.
“Overall, higher rates of disabilities were found among children in rural areas at 60 per cent as compared to those in urban areas at 40pc,” states the National Special Needs Education Survey (NSNES).
The study by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) Jitolee, indicates that more than 16 per cent of children with disabilities are out school while 18.4 per cent of children and youth with disabilities were either total or partial orphans.
The survey, conducted in 2014, adds that this could be due to greater access to maternal and child health and rehabilitation services in urban areas.
The survey shows that the most prevalent disabilities are multiple disabilities at 31per cent, visual impairment at 20 per cent, hearing impairment at 10 per cent and physical impairment at nine per cent.
It adds that higher rates of disabilities among girls stands at 54 per cent compared with boys at 46per cent, with only one per cent of SNE teachers having acquired specialised training in the multiple disability category.
The study adds that from the 386 education institutions surveyed there was a total enrolment of 13,389 pupils with disabilities, with 1,135 teachers having special-needs training in at least one of the 15 categories of disabilities and special needs, more being female at 58 per cent than male at 42 per cent.
The categories of SNE specialisation that had the highest percentage of trained teachers was inclusive education at 25 per cent, followed by hearing impairment at 23 per cent and intellectual and cognitive handicaps at 17 per cent.
“All other SNE categories had less than 10pc trained teachers; notably only one percent of SNE teachers had acquired specialised training in multiple disability category,” adds the report which noted the ratios of special needs teachers to students being within the required threshold.
However, it reveals that very high teacher pupil rations were observed among the less salient special needs categories such as specific learning disabilities (105:1) emotional and behavioural disorders (33:1), speech and language disorders (48:1), multiple disabilities and deaf blind.
The study also found that the physical infrastructure and resources in many schools were not adequate and relevant for learners with disabilities.
“For instance, even though most schools had infrastructure facilities such as toilets and classrooms, some of the facilities were inaccessible to children with disabilities due to the absence of ramps and adapted desks, toilets and doors,” it states.
However, the study found that children with disabilities had functional assistive devices to support the teaching and learning process.
The survey revealed the disabling factors that hindered school attendance for children with disabilities are both home-based and systemic.
The home-based factors included parents keeping their children away from school for fear of exposing them, high levels of poverty, lack of assistive devices such as wheelchairs and lack of hearing aids.
The systemic factors included lack of proper means of transport to school, inadequate number of special schools within the communities, and lack of enough trained SNE teachers.
The survey established that community held positive perceptions towards enrolment of children with disabilities in school but also established existence of stereotypes and misconception about CWDs within the community.
The study reveals that despite the presence of various laws and policies on the right of people with disabilities in the country, children with special needs and disability have not been able to realize the right to free and compulsory quality basic education.
It notes that there is lack of effective mechanisms for the implementation of inclusive education in the county as an approach to ensuring that all learners are included in the education system and benefit from the right to education.
The report has recommended that the government reach out to families in rural areas with a focus on boys, who it notes were found out to be most affected, as well as conduct a nationwide study on disability prevalence among children in order to inform equitable resource allocation.
It also recommends increasing special-needs teachers and harmonising their distribution so that they are in institutions that are appropriate to their skills.
“Mainstream inclusive education as a core subject in all levels of teacher training curriculum and prepare the school environment for disability inclusion, with appropriate infrastructure teaching and learning materials and assistive devices,” adds the report.
The report also wants a review and full implementation of all laws, polices and regulations on disability and education such as SNE policy, disability policy, basic education Act and persons with disability Act.
“Provide standard benchmarks and measures for the realization of access, relevance, quality and equity in provision of inclusive education,” it adds.
The government should also provide adequate funding, modern equipment and qualified skills among education assessment and resource centres, as critical human resource for early identification, assessment and placement of learners with special needs.
Education PS Belio Kipsang said the government recognizes the importance of supporting special need education in order to realize its goal of ensuring education for all and implementing in spirit, the provision of the constitution and vision 2030.