Children With Special Needs Unit
This program started in May 2015 with a purpose of providing formal training and basic skills to children with various disabilities in Mukuru Kwa Ruben.
Education Context of the Program
Universal Primary education is a global goal. Providing education as a right is an obligation of all governments and requires that they translate their national commitments into legislation. This goal will only be achieved when the universal right to education extends to individuals with special needs and disabilities in the country. Thus in realizing this, the Kenyan government came with this agenda of free education for all. The government in the light of the latter has come up with the policy that coordinates institutions that would over-see the provision of Special Needs Education with units being established into the normal schools. The schools then are entrusted with the task to; -
- Make sure every child who has special needs have access to quality and relevant education
- To create conducive and safe environment for learners with special needs.
- Provide specialized facilities for learning.
- Develop a program that will suit the learners with special needs.
- Build the capacity for teachers and caregivers.
- Give awareness to the entire school community to accept learners with special needs.
- To provide all necessary needs for the unit for special needs education.
The Kenyan National Special Needs Education Policy Framework (MOE 2009) reiterates that, ‘People with disabilities (PWD) make up 10% of the total population of Kenya, approximately 3.5 million people (WHO 2006)’. The latter are indeed disadvantaged and marginalized groups and experience a high level of discrimination at all levels in our society.
A complex web of economic and social issues including gender inequality, create barriers within mainstream education, social and economic life to learners with special needs and disabilities. In addition are the physical barriers as a place like Nairobi and in Ruben’s case the slum are not user friendly to disability as well as schools having no special provision for disability access. As a result a good numbers of children with special needs are unable to access basic education. Poverty leading to lack of capital resources and cultural factors also hinder the expansion of services. So in Nairobi County with two hundred and five public schools, only three have special needs facilities and programs.
Disabled persons, especially children, face a host of problems as a result of their special needs. Many children with special needs live in hostile, bleak environments, where their safety and security is compromised and their future jeopardized. Thus, Ruben slum is not an exceptional to this case of marginalization of people living with disabilities, especially the children who are entirely vulnerable. The assessment, which was done in mid-February, indicates that there are children living with disabilities of school age and sill the families cannot afford to take them to special schools.
With the population of over 100,000 inhabitants, Ruben had no Centre for children living with disabilities. Due to the survey done by Association Of People With Disability (APDK) in this slum there is a great need of such service, thus as a response Ruben Centre has offered to start a special unity within the normal school structures in order to cater for children who live with disabilities and have to acquire special education.
Aims and Objectives of the Program
- To provide basic education to children living with disabilities and basic skills that would help them to be integrated into normal classrooms.
- To empower the parents to accept the children and being able to live with a disabled child. Training and updating the mothers and carers on issues associated with these children is part of the responsibilities of the teacher.To provide supplementary diet to improve their health.
- To improve social life so that they can interact with other children at school and home.
- To provide occupational therapy to children suffering from different conditions that requires therapy.To provide medical treatment, guidance and support related to occupational therapy services
- Offer social and economic support to mothers of children with disability. To have some place where they can be cared for while freeing them to pursue other tasks and seek out casual work is a “God send” to these women.
The program has one full time teacher initially employed to teach other class levels at Ruben Primary. The teacher is well qualified with a Diploma in Special program. Three Caregivers assist the teacher. Initially when the unit was in its infancy stage the parents used to work as volunteers until it was decided that it was good to make it a full time post so that the children can become familiar with the caregivers instead of having new people every day. The children also enjoy the service of one Occupational therapist who is an employee of the Ruben Centre Clinic who meets them once a week.
The school’s physical education teachers are also programming two lessons per week with the children. They can take them to the hall or to the special exercise yard associated with the occupational therapist.