Child with special needs: parent shares her story

Special needs learners.

In last year’s KCPE, out of 1,417 special needs candidates who sat for the exam, only two managed to scoop above 400 marks. The results sharply contrasts 2022 KCPE when 39 candidates attained marks above 400.

Beatrice Mwende Mutinga, a parent to 11-year-old child with Cerebral Palsy (CP) says Kenyan special needs education is not given a priority;  parents manage and finance it.

‘’The government support starts and ends in providing a curriculum, classroom and both the teaching and non-teaching staff, anything beyond that is left to parents to figure out  and finance  since  the government has put its foot off the pedal,’’  said Mutinga, adding she  enrolled her daughter  at a special school  and her stay in the school was disappointing.

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Upon further consideration, the result was disastrously disheartening. Not knowing what the problem was Mutinga revealed; the teachers weren’t engaging the learners in any activity especially the non-verbal ones.

Luckily, she got a referral to a privately funded school that was quite a distance from where she lived. And that made her move houses in order to easily access the institution. She is happy despite the inconvenience of moving houses for the sake of her daughter’s better education.

‘’I’m happily seeing some great strides in her everyday learning,’’ she said, smiling.

Josephine Mwende, a special education needs school teacher attached to a cerebral unit in Kyuso, Kitui County, admits the sector faces a myriad of problems. She has been a special education teacher since 2015 — with 43 admissions but now — she has 34 with only 16 if not less regular attendants.

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“For the rest my guess is as good as yours,” she shrugs sadly and points out that the problem lies with transport.

“If transport issue can be addressed, the special needs learners will be home and dry, because parents are willing to enroll their kids in schools but find it a challenge to carry kids on their backs to and fro school and boda boda fare is usually higher to the poor parents hailing from low income areas,’’ she added.

Mwende adds that apart from transport, there is lack of therapists, resulting to absenteeism of special needs students. “Due to lack of therapists in schools, the special needs learners miss a day or two, because they are taken for therapy some other place. Also, parents access therapy service when well-wishers assist them.

“Unfortunately when the well-wishers funds  dry up, therapists leave, with unaccomplished missions, asking government to fund therapists fully for all  special needs learners,’’ Mwende added.

Veteran scholar Hassan Omar says it sickens to see most special needs learners skipping examinations and no one acts upon it to avert the situation.

By Amoto Ndiewo

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