, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 25 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has directed the Ministries of Education and National Treasury to work with stakeholders to develop a marshal plan that would establish an optimal number of institutions across the country to effectively cater for persons with disabilities.
As part of the marshal plan, President Kenyatta said the government would establish and equip 10 model education, assessment and resource centres of excellence to facilitate early identification, assessment and placement or referrals of children with disabilities.
President Kenyatta spoke Friday when he launched the Education Sector Policy for Learners and Trainees with Disabilities that provides a clear framework for inclusive education and training.
The President noted that inadequate qualified personnel; insufficient equipment, assistive devices and technologies have in the past hampered early identification, assessment and placement of children with disabilities.
“My Administration will provide further support on infrastructural accessibility, availability of affordable assistive devices and technologies, sufficient specialized personnel and adequate financial support, guided by the needs of various disability categories,” said President Kenyatta.
The President said for inclusive education to work in the country, the best interests and needs of learners and trainees must be taken into consideration during decision-making and resource allocation.
“In this regard, I direct the Cabinet Secretary for Education to establish and equip the Educational Assessment Resource Centres countrywide and provide competent personnel and specialized equipment and technologies to operationalize this policy so that no child with disability is left behind,” said the President.
The Head of State emphasised that the policy, he launched, must be implemented quickly and effectively to provide education to children and young people with disabilities to enable them participate in building the nation.
The President said education is the greatest equalizer as it helps to level the playing field and open opportunities for all, irrespective of their social or economic background.
“In this regard, it is important to ensure that this segment of our population living with disabilities participate fully and benefit from our education and training programmes,” said the President.
Adding, “This is the only way they can acquire the knowledge and skills that will enable them to effectively participate in building our nation.”
The country has approximately 4 million people with disabilities out of which 2.8 million are children and youth aged 1 to 24 years, mainly living in the rural areas.
The President lauded the new policy for recognizing the challenges faced by people with disabilities and providing approaches that caters for diversity of needs of the group.
President Kenyatta said his administration cares for the welfare of all its citizens and is obligated to avail to the disabled people quality education, just as it does to the rest of Kenyans.
“This is why my Administration has put in place the special programmes department to level the playing field so that vulnerable groups can participate in various economic activities and, indeed, in building the prosperous Kenya we desire to have,” said the Head of State.
He singled out the current financial year where he said the government disbursed Sh52 billion under the Free Day Secondary Education capitation; Sh13.4 billion under Free Primary Education capitation grants; Sh3 billion for national examinations, and Sh1.8 billion for infrastructural improvement in schools.
The President said in the same period his Government disbursed Sh1.4 billion to support Special Needs Education.
“The resources we have been extending to support special needs education over the years has led to increased access to education by learners and trainees with disabilities from about 40,000 in the year 2008 to the current enrolment of 250,883 learners,” said President Kenyatta.
Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed said the sector policy for learners and trainees with disabilities, developed through extensive stakeholders’ consultation, will go a long way in boosting provision of services to learners and trainees with special needs and disabilities.