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Special needs schools neglected, says Sossion

Thursday September 8 2016

A teacher assists a student with special needs to polish a shoe at Oshwal Primary School in Westlands, Nairobi, on April 21, 2016. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

A teacher assists a student with special needs to polish a shoe at Oshwal Primary School in Westlands, Nairobi, on April 21, 2016. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

OUMA WANZALA
By OUMA WANZALA
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The government should provide free education to children with disabilities from early childhood (ECD) to university level in order to tap in to high numbers of them who are out of school.

Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Secretary General Wilson Sossion lamented that the government has neglected the sector for a very long time.

“We must end this injustices against children with special needs that we have continued to perpetuate for years and accord them their right to education,” said Mr Sossion during the just –ended special schools heads association conference in Nairobi.

He asked the government to also develop policy framework that will guide the sector noting that it is lacking.

“We do not have officers in the education ministry to handle issues of special needs and it seems it is not part of the government’s agenda. They will sympathize with you but offer no solution to your problems,” he told the conference that brought together over 300 delegates.

Mr Sossion asked the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to hire teachers specifically for special schools and provide them with good working conditions.

“We will not have any problem if TSC announces that it is recruiting over 5,000 teachers specifically for special schools. We will support it,” said the Knut Secretary General.

He also asked the government to invest in infrastructure in special schools noting that the current facilities are too dilapidated.

Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i told the conference that enrolment of children with special needs in school is poor.

“Some of the children are usually held at home by parents and guardians who are “ashamed” to enrol them in school. We must change this shameful trend and embrace inclusive educational practices that accommodate learners with special needs as envisaged by the Constitution of Kenya,” said Dr Matiang’i.

He said Sh900 million will be spent on special schools this year.

Statistics indicate that more than 100,000 children with disabilities are out of school and that one in every 10 Kenyans below the age of 21 is disabled.

Consequently, a report on university education released by the Commission for University Education (CUE) paints a picture of a sector that has not been given much attention.

The report states that it is only 645 students with disabilities that are in more than 70 public and private universities.

Majority of the students had physical disability, followed by visual disability and hearing impairment.