The National Policy Forum on Inclusive Education was held on 15th February, 2022 at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development Nairobi, Kenya. It was organized by Elimu Yetu Coalition (EYC) Special Needs Education thematic group as a buildup activity to the 22nd Global Disability Summit (GDS The Global Disability Summit offers a concrete mechanism for collecting new, ambitious, and widespread commitments which are critical to achieving real change for persons with disabilities. The first GDS was held in 2018 and was co-hosted by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Government of Kenya, and the International Disability Alliance (IDA). It inspired unprecedented engagement and generated commitments to action that will help deliver Agenda 2030’s vision to ‘Leave No One Behind’ (LNOB) as well as existing obligations under the UN Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). GDS 2022 which was to take place on 16th – 17th February 2022 and was to be hosted by the Governments of Norway and Ghana, and the International Disability Alliance. The purpose of the summit was to mobilize efforts on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
The forum brought together over fifty (50) participants representing different education stakeholders including the Director Special Needs Education(MoE), representative of the Kenya Institute of Special Education, Teachers union, National Parents Association, Nairobi County Education Board and Civil Society Organizations under the umbrella of EYC.
Objectives of the forum
- To present a platform for stakeholders to discuss implementation of the Sector Policy for Learners and Trainees with Disability (2018).
- To present policy recommendations of civil society organizations on inclusive education.
- To enable policy makers to share achievements, gaps and plans on inclusive education in Kenya.
- To develop concrete steps forward on the issues discussed.
Recommendation by Kenya Institute of Special Education (KISE) representative
Mr. Daniel Sanoe, the academic registrar at KISE, made the following recommendations;
- Offering pre-service training to teachers instead of the current in-service training to make sure that teachers coming into the field are already oriented on how to handle the special needs children.
- To shorten the teacher training courses from two years to one year. This would allow them to go back and practice what they’ve been taught before learning more in the second year
- Attitude change in learning institutions. He called out to the stakeholders: parents, caregivers and principals to engage with the children to portray a positive attitude that can be transmitted to the rest of the learners. He emphasized on the importance of forums where both parents and principles can be present to hear the same things on matters special needs to further harmonize their efforts.
- To bring the collective effort of the assessment officers to the table to work together with teachers and principals to formulate inclusive reports that will be sufficient to inform school policies on special needs education.
The Directorate of Special Needs Education, Mr. Fred Haga Remarks
The director then gave the analogy of the head, hands, and heart, representatives of human interaction in matters special needs. The head represents what we know on the subject matter while the hands represents what we can do towards changing the current order of events. The heart represents the convictions and attitudes the various stakeholders have while tackling issues surrounding inclusive education particularly for learners with disability.
He recommended that the partners can support implementation of the sector policy for learners and trainees with disabilities;
- By incorporating inclusive education in programming
- Creation of awareness on the special needs children, sensitization of the general public and the stakeholders, and increased advocacy for the right of this group of people.
- Supporting a national conference for heads of special schools to enable them discuss matters affecting learners with disabilities.
- Budget advocacy for special needs education.
- Piloting new initiatives to assist in the realization of the predefined goals. This may include benchmarks or assistance from partner organizations within or outside the country to champion for inclusive education.
Policy recommendations made by the Civil Society Organisations;
- Provide disability friendly infrastructure in all schools to promote access to education for all learners.
- Provide adequate funding to schools for acquisition and maintenance of assistive devices and adapted teaching and learning resources for learners with disability.
- Increase and dis aggregate capitation grants for children with disabilities with regards to type and severity of the disability.
- Establish a strong integrated data management system for learners with disability in collaboration with other relevant ministries, departments, and agencies.
- Employ and redeploy adequate qualified teachers and support staff working with learners and trainees with disabilities and enhance provision of learning support services.
- Provide adequate equipment for assessment of learners with disability.
- Strengthen monitoring utilization of equipment and other resources to ensure maintenance of up-to-date records in schools.
- Sensitize all stakeholders on issues of non-discrimination, inclusiveness, equity, and the right to education.
- Strengthen the coordination of actors involved in education for learners with special needs and disabilities and ensure their participation in planning, implementation, monitoring, and reporting of inclusive initiatives.
- Conduct grass root mobilization on children with disabilities and special needs in education by sensitizing parents and guardians to take up a more active role in the education of their children.
Following the proposals and recommendations by the thematic groups, the forum discussed the way forward with regards to inclusive education especially for children with special needs. The suggestions on how to proceed were as follows.
- Coordination between EYC, partners, the national police service, and the ministry of education to mitigate the issues around special needs education.
- Consider special needs and inclusive education while budgeting at both county and national level.
- Add a desk at the police station to cater for issues affecting special needs children just as there is a child’s desk.
- Budget tracking of the funds allocated to children with special needs.
- Members and stakeholders should be proactive in the implementation of the policies discussed at the forum.
- Sensitization and awareness creation for the special needs children and their education.
- Continuation of such discussions to be held at regular intervals to keep the conversation going and allow for more ideas and policy recommendations on special needs education.
- There should be a multi-organization/ multi-stakeholders approach to reduce the gap between the national and local activities.
- Supply of assistive devices should be made directly to special needs children instead of selling them to donors who later donate them.
- The government should work on gaining and retaining actual data on children with special needs to ease allocation of both funds and personnel to promote special needs education.