Nguvu Change Leader Patience Achieng’s campaign for inclusive education in Kenya is now attracting the attention of administrators, politicians, and the general public. Recently, Patience met Kenyan Senator Crystal Asige, Senate Parliamentary representative for persons with disabilities and special interest groups, MP Beatrice Elachi, and Fredrick Haga, Director of Education, Directorate of Special Needs at the Ministry of Education, requesting support for policies that facilitate specially-abled children to access educational facilities.
Though the leaders did not make any public remarks, they have reportedly extended their support to the idea of inclusivity in school environments where children of all abilities can learn together.
(TOP: Nguvu Change Leader Patience Achieng’ with MP Beatrice Elachi – second from left – and Senator Crystal Asige – right).
“During the meeting, I raised the issue of disability inclusion in our education system with both leaders. I emphasised that this is a matter requiring not only a steadfast intention but urgent attention and concrete action. I sought support for specially-abled children and urged them to endorse my campaign,” says Patience.
She has already filed an online petition urging the Ministry of Education and County Governments to develop a system that allocates educational funding for children with disabilities depending on the type and severity of their special needs.
Patience, who experienced a debilitating stroke at the age of 14, suffered a loss of speech and mobility functions. Despite her determined fight to recover her speech, her mobility was severely impacted, necessitating her reliance on a walking aid for movement. This impairment also challenged her educational aspirations, as she struggled to find affordable institutions capable of accommodating her special needs.
“Many schools lack essential facilities like ramps, accessible restrooms, and inclusive teaching methods. Finding a suitable school was a daunting task, one that no child with special needs should ever face,” adds Patience.
According to a survey conducted by the Kenya Institute of Special Education (KISE), the prevalence rate of children with special needs aged between 3 and 21 years in Kenya is 11.4%, with 51.2% being males and 48.8% females.
“The administrators should ensure that the curriculum adequately caters to the needs of learners with special educational requirements. There is also a necessity to prioritise advocacy and grassroots mobilisation efforts to sensitise parents and guardians to play a more active role in supporting children with special needs,” concludes Patience.