Eight disabled children scored above 400 marks in the 2018 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examinations, Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has said.
"So far, eight children with special needs have scored above 400 marks in the just released KCPE results. I am happy and proud to report that the 10th best child nationally, who comes from Turkana County, is a special-needs child,” she said.
Speaking during the World Children’s Day celebrations at the Kenya National Theatre in Nairobi on Wednesday, Ms Mohamed said the results were proof that the government’s decision to invest in the disabled children’s education was paying off. The celebrations were organised by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) and were attended by a large group of children and dignitaries.
"We will continue to invest in these schools and assessment centres in conjunction with Unicef and other partners to ensure they get quality education. With the right focus, all our children will do well," the CS said.
Ms Mohamed named child marriages, female genital mutilation, poverty and recruitment into militias, as some of the challenges likely to have a negative influence on children’s education.
The CS said the government had established feeding programmes for children to ensure they stay in school. “If there are children who are missing school, then you should report such cases to us. No child should miss school because education is a right for every child,” she said.
She said the ministry was in the process of integrating schools so that they could accommodate both disabled children and their able counterparts.
“Our schools are the mirror of society and must reflect the composition of the various Kenyans that live among us. Isolation of the children with disabilities is not part of the process. We must integrate in order to eliminate discrimination against these special children,” she said.
The CS added that the government is committed to ensuring that all learners who did their KCPE proceed to secondary school.
“Whatever you got in terms of results should not be a hindrance in getting secondary education. All KCPE candidates will transition to secondary school, with the school fees being set at around Sh50,000 for public boarding schools,” said Ms Mohamed.
She added that public day secondary schooling is free for Kenyans, and that no one should force the learners to pay fees. “No child should be denied a place in secondary school. We are determined to ensure that there is 100 per cent transition from primary to secondary school. Like free primary education, education is also offered free of charge in public day secondary schools,” she said.
Unicef Country Representative Werner Schultink said it was time for parents and teachers to listen to children and address their concerns as they too had a voice in the best way to manage their issues.
"Most times adults think they know what is best for the children but at times, they can be wrong. It is important for us to listen to our children and consider their opinion in the interest of securing their future," said Mr Schultink.
Australian High Commissioner to Kenya Alison Chartres said her government is committed to supporting the education of children with special needs.
She said Australia is part of the Global Action on Disability Group, which supports people with disabilities in developing countries and the All Children Reading initiative.