Fatuma strikes a pose of confidence when interviewed . She is a person living with disability and comes from a marginalized community in Wajir County; Kenya. Wajir is one of the counties in the North Eastern part of the country and is characterized by nomadic lifestyle. Communities here are highly patriarchal with little opportunity for women, and with a sense of discrimination against people with disability.
Yet against this background, Fatuma has been able to achieve a lot. She is the Chairperson of Wajir County Disabled Society, which has a membership of 30 Community Based Organizations (CBO’s). She is also the Vice-Chairperson of Wajir Court Users Committee, which is chaired by the head of the Judiciary at Wajir Law Courts. Furthermore, Fatuma is the chairperson of Wajir Civil Society Organizations consortium, which is an umbrella body bringing together all Civil Society Organizations in Wajir, including; Wajir County Education Network (WCEN), which is a member of Elimu Yetu Coalition.
As the chair of the consortium her work is to co-ordinate the Civil Society in its effort to, uplift or improve livelihood as well as to hold government to account. Her affiliation with WCEN, has led her to be part of a group advocating on education issues, including; the lack of teachers in the county occasioned largely by the flight of non-local teachers from the area owing to Al-Shabaab induced insecurity. She has also dealt with Special Needs Education (SNE) issues, targeting children with mental, hearing and visual impairment. Particularly, she has been at the forefront of advocating for braille support for visually impaired children. Fatuma has also been involved in advocating for girls affected by cases of early pregnancies to go back to school. She has pushed for the improvement of infrastructure to enable access for learners with disability, and has suggested to the county government to build an integrated secondary schools to cater for the visually impaired learners. She is currently lobbying the Teacher Service Commission (TSC) to start a teacher training college in Wajir County in an effort to address the teacher shortage. Along this line she is also involved in mentoring young people to take teaching as a profession.
In her own way, Fatuma, has made a contribution towards improving access to Education in the marginalized community of Wajir County and especially for Children with disability. She is therefore an inspiration to women and persons with disability from marginalized communities. For her, the journey to this achievement has not been easy because she was infected with Polio at the age of three, which left her left leg paralyzed, and as a person with disability, she has had to endure discrimination based on her status.
Throughout the implementation of the Education Out Loud (EOL), Elimu Yetu Coalition (EYC), shall give special attention to the mobilization of marginalized groups including women and youth, in an attempt to encourage their involvement in education matters both at the county and national level. To EYC, women such as Fatuma Yussuf are clear role models and can make a huge contribution towards boosting access to quality basic education in marginalized areas.
Interviewed during the Civil Society conference on Education for All North Eastern region held at Wajir guest house on 9th – 10th September, 2020