By Jane Omogi
Programme Officer (ECD/SNE)


Introduction
The Ministry of Education officials and KNATCOM-UNESCO visited Embu Inclusive Education Project. The main objective was to have a first hand impression of how inclusive education has been implemented on the ground in the district. The experiences of the project would help the ministry when developing its Special Needs Education Policy which is in the process of being developed. The trip to Embu was undertaken on the 26th October, 2005. The purpose of the trip was to visit an Inclusive Education Pilot Project in Embu with the intention on of observing the challenges of inclusion. It was hoped that the information would help the officers have first hand information in inclusion and will be more informed when drafting the special needs policy.

The project was started in 2002 and the main objectives of the pilot was:

• To increase access, retention and completion rate of children with disability within the district.

• To pilot inclusive Education and document good practices that can be replicated within the country.

• To provide practical solutions of overcoming challenges that can be a hindrance to inclusion.

• To create awareness within the district on the need to educate children with disabilities.

• To mobilize communities to provide resources and necessary support children for with Special Needs Education.
• To lobby the government to develop Special Needs Education Policy.

The Project was started in 2002 and ended in December, 2005. The findings of the project have been documented and will be released after the Church has studied the projects.

It was noted that for inclusion to succeed all stakeholders must work together. Parents are empowered through Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) to start self help groups that have uplift their standards of living. They also work in the small homes that they have established as volunteer and advocate for the education of their children.

At the district and school level there is a lot of awareness on inclusion and the need to accommodate diversity. Teachers have also been trained and every pilot school has a trained teacher in Special Needs Education.

This project shows that inspite of challenges that are faced in the rural areas by children with disability inclusive Education can be realized with some minimal adjustment in the school and community.

Programmes

Education Assessment and Resource Services
Education Assessment and Resource Services has one acting co-ordinator and two assessment teachers who do assessment in the whole district. They create awareness, home visit, place children in school, assess them and refer them to the necessary places.

Production Workshop
This has only one Manager who is supposed to do maintenance and repair for the whole province.

Embu integrated Programme for the
Visually Impaired Children

This program is served by two itinerant teachers in the whole district. The numbers of children served in these programmes are 83 at both primary and secondary school level.

Embu Special Schools
for the Mentally Handicaped

The school has a population of 63 children and 7 teachers. Three teachers who trained in Special Needs Education (SNE).

Small Homes for Children
with Physical Disability

There are 4 homes in the district with a population of 57 children. There are also 24 homes for children with mentally handicapped with a population of 24 children.

INCLUSIVE EDUCATION PILOT PROJECT

The project is done in collaboration with the ministry of Education and the Embu Catholic Diocese Special programme. Currently the project is being implemented in Kevote, Gamanda, Ithan-gawe, Murandori, Kimangaru, Mugui, and Kavutiri primary. Ruhora, Ungweri and Gitare units have day scholars and the others mentioned above operate small homes. The type of inclusive that is practiced in the district is twofold. Children with severe and multiple disabilities are placed in small homes within the community because they cannot be able to walk to school daily. However, occasionally they mix with children from the mainstream classes in the field.

The second type of inclusion in Embu is where pupils who do not have severe disability learn with children in the regular classes. These children have physical disability and visually impairment. To support them the community has built small homes that are attached to regular school. Some walk daily to school because they leave close to the school but those who come from a distance to the school are allowed the option of staying in the small homes or going home daily. Those opt to stay in the small homes are allowed to go home during the weekend or just stay in the small homes for the rest of the term.
The community ensures that the physical infrastructure is user friendly. The homes are maintained by the community. They maintain and make foot paths for children with mobility problems. They also provide food and support services.

Collaborating partners in the pilot projects

Ministry of Education
This ministry’s role is:
• In servicing on inclusive education especially during the holiday.
• Providing funds integrated.
• Conduct short courses.
• Create awareness.

Religious Organisations
The Diocese is working with various religious organizations in order to provide optimum services to the child. Collaboration has made it possible for them streamline their services and avoid duplication. In this project religious organization play a key role in capacity building of teachers and community mobilization.

Ministry of Health
The ministry of health provides physiotherapists, nurses and occupational therapists. They also do minor surgeries and treat visually and hearing impaired. The ministry also works closely with the community especially in the area of awareness creation, early assessment, prevention, referral and intervention.

Association for Physically Disabled of Kenya
The role of the association is to make mobility aids for the physically disabled. They also run a children clinic where they screen, identify type of disability and referral services for treatment. They subsidized the treatment especially surgical services offered in Kijabe mission hospital and Kikuyu mission hospital. They also negotiate for free treatment for clients who are very poor.

Education Assessment and Resource Service Work
This service were developed by the ministry of Education for the following purpose:
• Assess children with special needs.
• Place them in schools.
• Make referral to doctor for professional diagnosis.
• Guide and counsel parents.
• Organize home based visit and care for the severely disabled children.
• Create awareness on issues to do with disability.
• Train teachers of newly opened special units.
• Offer itinerant and peripatetic services.
• Make learning materials.
• Repair and maintenance of specialized equipment.
• CBR.

The head of the programme is a co-ordinating assessment teacher, who is an employee of the Teachers Service Commission.

The assessment teams have been working closely with the pilot project team. This is evident in the way inclusion is done in the district. The aim of having an EARS is to take services to the child rather than the child to the services; most of the services are now within the reach of the child with disability.

The Provincial
Production Workshop

This has not been very active although initially the project coordinator had intended to use it to produce orthopedic aids. The coordinator realized that they would need to use a lot of money to put it back on track. She decided to use APDK to make the specialized equipment. However, plans are under-way to equip so that it can provide services for children who have visual and hearing impairment.

Disabled Peoples
Organization

The disability organization role in the project is:
• Awareness creation.
• Identification.
• Sensitization.
• Advocacy.
• Lobbying for more units and schools to admit children with disabilities.
• They also act as role models.
• Community resource mobilization.

District Social
Development Officer

These are civil servants employed by social services. They advice on the social wel-fare of the child and make necessary recommendation if they feel that the child is being denied his/her rights.

The Non-Government
Organizations (NGO’s)

NGO’s are many in the district. The few most active ones are Plan International and Compassion International. They provide:
• Awareness creation.
• Aid to poor households for income Generating activities.
• Capacity building for the teachers and community members.

Parents
The parents are the key stakeholders and therefore they have been encouraged to form their own support groups. In these groups they are trained:
• To advocate for their children’s right.
• To counsel one another.
• On basic medical skills like exercise that can be done on the children at home.
• They are encouraged to form their own community based organizations.
• To reduce poverty the encouraged to start income generating activities.

School Level
The following groups of persons work closely with the school committee to ensure that children with disability gain access education and are not discriminated.
• Schools management committee.
• Disability organizations.
• Parents.
• Parents and friends of the disabled volunteers (PAFODA).

Training / In-Services
Teachers are trained on the job during holidays by Kenya Institute of Special Education (KISE) at both certificate and Diploma level. They all take the distance learning course and they are sponsored for the course by the Embu Catholic Diocese.

Trainers of Trainers Course
This course targets parents, persons with disabilities, Teachers and child to child organizations. The course last for 1-2 weeks.

Challenges facing
the Project

• The EARS staffs are not trained in the latest trends and emerging issues within the society hence they still use traditional methods to assess children. They do not also put into consideration emerging issues when placing children.
• Few assessment teachers to support the project.
• Lack of transport to coordinate the expansive District hence follow up of some pupils is not done adequately.
• Reluctance by some schools to admit Special Needs Education (SNE) cases even after the extensive sensitization.
• Most of the children cannot walk long distance to schools of their choices.
• Poverty; most parents are very poor and cannot provide assistive devices a and specialized equipment.
• Most schools do not have the necessary specification for adjusting the infrastructure so they do not know how to go about it.
• Lack of specialized equipment in school. This makes learning difficult for children with disabilities.
• Lack of enough teachers to support the project hence remedial classes sometimes are not undertaken because the teachers are overworked.

Benefits
• The ministry of Education has recognized the need to include children with disability and has started disbursing yearly grants to regular schools with more than 5 children with disability in the district.
• The level of awareness in the district Education office, and the district as a whole, on disability issues has increased.
• At the grassroots level communities are making the environment disability friendly by making paths and building small homes which are attached to regular schools.
• At school level children are supporting one another through the child to child programmes.
• They also mix and support one another with their home work.
• Parents support groups which have been formed and are involved in income generating activities
• The level of collaboration among stakeholders is very high and they are optimistic that inclusion will lead to increase in access to education for children with disabilities.
• Teaching/learning materials are being developed using locally available materials.
• Local artisans have been trained to repair assistive devices and specialized equipment hence there is no need to travel long distances to look for services.
• Through CBR women and men are empowered economically and can educate their children.



 
Conclusion
The inclusive Education pilot project in Embu has been very useful to the whole district when it started only 240 children were attending school in the district. Due to the awareness creation exercises and change of attitude in the community the number of children attending school has increased from 240 to 589, more so children are being identified and the necessary intervention provided.

It is therefore important to put into consideration the principal of inclusion when developing the comprehensive policy in special needs education.