The 2018 Sector Policy for Learners and Trainees with Disabilities defines Inclusive education as an approach according to which “learners and trainees with disabilities are provided with appropriate educational interventions within regular institutions of learning with reasonable accommodations and support”.
Special education needs
The 2012 Basic education Act includes intellectually, mentally, physically, visually, emotionally challenged or hearing impaired learners; pupils with multiple disabilities and specially gifted and talented pupils under the category of children with special needs (art. 44.3).
The 2009 Special needs Education Policy Framework had provided a broad definition of learners with special needs, including persons with and without disabilities, such as refugee children, orphaned children, gifted and talented children. The revised 2018 Sector Policy for Learners and Trainees with Disabilities narrows the scope only to learners and trainees with disabilities. In particular, the Policy addresses learners with hearing impairment, visual impairment, deaf-blindness, physical impairments, intellectual and developmental disabilities, specific learning disabilities (dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia), cerebral palsy, speech and language difficulties, multiple disabilities, autism and albinism. Moreover, it acknowledges other forms of special needs not expressly mentioned, such as the gifted and talented learners, students affected by psychosocial disorders and chronic illness.
According to the2009 Special Needs Education Policy Framework, education for learners with disabilities was provided in special schools, in integrated schools and in special units within regular schools and targeted specific categories, including hearing impairment, visual impairment, intellectual disability and physical disability.
Recently, inclusive education has progressed, extending education provision for learners and trainees with disabilities in regular schools. The new approach recognizes the pivotal role of special schools in the transition towards inclusive education and relies on the educational services provided by special institutions, special units in regular institutions and home-based education, specifically for learners and trainees with severe disabilities and under vulnerable circumstances. Currently, 1,882 primary and secondary schools provide education for learners with special needs.
Early identification, screening and assessment
Educational Assessment Resource Centers (EARC) identify and assesses the educational needs of children with disabilities and identify the most suitable and appropriate education provision and services. Consisting of multi-professional teams, including teachers, social and medical workers, EARCs involves the community in its activity of early identification, assessment, intervention and placement. EARCs’ activities have contributed to enhancing inclusive education delivery strategy through an increased placement of children with special needs into integrated programmes.
The 2018 Sector Policy for Learners and Trainees with Disabilities aims to develop specific procedures and guidelines for assessment, early identification, and interventions for learners and trainees with disabilities and to operationalize and establish new multidisciplinary Education Assessment Resource Centers at the national, county and sub-county levels.
Informed by the principles of inclusion, the 2012 Basic Education Act contains provision on the elimination of gender discrimination, non-discrimination, encouragement and protection of the marginalised, persons with disabilities and those with special needs. The 2013 Technical And Vocational Education And Training Act laid the foundations for an education framework that facilitates the training of persons with special needs, minorities and marginalized groups (art. 32).
In line with the Kenya Vision 2030 paying particular attention to citizens with various disabilities and marginalized communities, the Education Strategic Plan 2008-2012 is committed to ensuring education to all children, including girls, marginalized children and from vulnerable groups. The current National Education Strategic Plan 2013-2018 (NESP) pursues, among its six priorities, the principles of equity and inclusion through gender in education, expanding educational opportunities in arid and semiarid lands (ASAL) and establishing a Most Vulnerable Children Voucher System.
The 2010 Constitution laid the foundation for education for learners with disabilities Enshrining the right to education for all (art.43.1), it introduced the concept of reasonable accommodation (art. 54) and recognized the right to “access educational institutions and facilities for persons with disabilities that are integrated into society to the extent compatible with the interests of the person”.
Amended to be harmonized with the new international instruments, including the CRPD, the revised 2012 Persons with Disabilities Act reaffirmed the right of persons with disability to access learning institutions without discrimination, “if the person has the ability to acquire substantial learning in that course”. It further compelled educational institutions to take into consideration the special needs of the groups in terms of entry requirements, curriculum, assessment, use of school facilities, and reaffirms the need to establish special schools and institutions, especially for the deaf, the blind and the “mentally retarded” (art. 18).
Special education provision is specifically regulated in Part VI of the 2012 Basic Education Act, stating that special needs education have to be provided in special schools at different levels to cater for “the needs of pupils requiring special education” (art. 44).
Concerning policy, the 2009 Special Needs Education Policy Framework provided a comprehensive framework of the provision of special needs education in Kenya. The 2012 Sessional Paper No. 14 on Education, Training and Research further called for appropriate adaptation of curricula, teaching methods, educational resources, and the learning environment to cater for individual differences in learning processes and procedures.
As recommended in the NESP 2013-2018, the SNE Policy Framework was reviewed and substituted by the 2018 Sector Policy for Learners and Trainees with Disabilities. With the overarching goal of promoting education and training for learners and trainees with disabilities, the latter has identified 16 thematic areas and developed specific policy statements, including an Inclusive education Policy, an Assessment and early intervention Policy, Equity and gender mainstreaming Policy. Compared to the 2009 SNE Policy Framework, the 2018 Sector Policy advocates the right of every learner with disability to be enrolled in regular classroom and therefore recognizes the need to move towards inclusive education, overcoming segregated education. The policy cuts across all levels of education from early childhood to University. It also recognizes and provides for home based schooling for those learners facing challenges to access regular schools.
The NESP 2013-2018 aims to implement inclusive education and to ensure that learning institutions are responsive to the education of learners with special needs and disabilities. It intends to achieve the policy objectives through the adaptation of the basic education curriculum, making it consistent with the needs of children with special needs, the review of the assessment and examination processes and the reforms of teacher education curriculum. The same goals are included in the Medium term plan of the Kenya Vision 2030 dedicated to Education and Training, identified as catalyst principle towards the realization of country’s general development programme Kenya Vision 2030.
As planned in the NESP 2013-2018 an in view of the new Constitution, the 2012 Sessional Paper No. 14, and the 2012 Basic Education, the 2007 Gender Education Policy were revised. The plan also called for more gender sensitive school environments and affirmative actions to address the needs of the marginalised, gender minorities, special needs and learners in difficult circumstances.
The overall goal of the new 2013 Education and Training Sector Gender Policy, based on the principle of inclusion, is to promote gender equality issues in the education sector and to enhance empowerment for effective gender participation in the society. It also addressed the need to ensure a flexible gender responsive curriculum for special needs learners through the development of content on gender training and gender-responsive teaching and learning materials at all education levels and to promote of equitable participation in STEM of learners with special needs.
In May 2019, the Kenyan high court’s verdict upheld a colonial-era law that criminalizes sexual intercourses among same sex people.
Ethnic and linguistic groups, people living in rural or remote areas
The 2010 Constitution of Kenya recognizes Kiswahili and English as official languages of the country. it promoted the development and use of indigenous languages as well as of Kenyan Sign language, Braille and other communication media accessible to persons with disabilities (art.7). It further establishes that the State shall adopt affirmative actions to provide minorities and marginalised groups with specific opportunities in education (art.56). As clarified in the constitution document, marginalised groups include indigenous communities, pastoral persons and communities, such as nomadic or settled but geographically isolated, who were or are experiencing disadvantaged because of laws or practices discrimination.
As planned in the NESP 2013-2018 and in the Medium term plan of the Kenya Vision 2030, the 2010 Nomadic education Policy was revised. Acknowledging that education provision needs to take into account the spiritual, social, security, moral and other developmental concerns of the nomadic communities, the new 2015 Policy Framework for Nomadic education provides a specific sector framework to ensure nomadic communities to have access to and effectively participate in relevant and quality basic education and training. The policy pays special attention to the themes of inclusion, gender, vulnerability within nomadic communities, especially girls and children with special needs. To facilitate access to and participation in education, the policy calls for the establishment of more mobile schools and introduction of open and distance learning (ODL) and for introducing innovative and flexible community-based education interventions.
The country has been implementing the Free Primary Education (FPE) Programme to promote access to basic education since 2003 and the Free Day Secondary Education (FDSE) since 2008
The NESP 2013-2018 calls for the implementation of an Education Voucher Scheme (EVS) targeting at children from poor households frequently absent from school or at risk of dropping-out. Moreover, the National School meals and nutrition Strategy 2017-2022 provides a framework for implementing school meals and nutrition initiatives in schools.
The 100 percent transition policy in secondary school enrollment enables every learner to access quality secondary education irrespective of their socio-economic status.
Aiming to increasing education access of street children, the 2009 Alternative Provision of Basic Education and Training (APBET) Policy Framework addresses the learning needs of the hard-to-reach children and youth through Alternative Primary Schools (APS) or Alternative Education Centres (AEC). The Street Family Rehabilitation Trust Fund (SFRTF) also seeks to rehabilitate street children by providing them with special protection, education and psychosocial support.
Coordination across sectors
The Persons with Disabilities Act established the National Council for Persons with Disabilities, a semi-autonomous government agency, which promotes the rights of persons with disabilities and mainstream them in national development. It consists of representatives of different ministries, including the Ministry of education and the Ministry of Health, as well as representatives from disability organizations.
According to the 2018 Sector Policy, the MoE is the main duty bearer in provision of education and training on behalf of the government. The government is working with other ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) in partnership with various actors in the provision of education services for learners and trainees with disabilities. It also sets the need to develop a coordinating framework that will bring together the players who provide services to learners and trainees with disabilities and to develop a multi-sectoral framework.
The 2011 National Gender and Equality Commission Act establishes the Commission based on the principles of inclusiveness, non-discrimination and protection of the marginalized groups. Among its functions, the Commission co-ordinates and advises on public education programmes mainstreaming a gender and equality perspective.
Ethnic and linguistic groups, people living in rural or remote areas
The National Council for Nomadic Education in Kenya (NACONEK) has been established to promote the right of nomadic communities in education and to monitor the education policy implementation.
Cooperation across government levels
As set out in the 2012 Basic Education Act, decision-making authority was expected to be decentralized on financial, human resources, and related functions in basic education. To support local authorities in the provision of public services, including education, the local government financing system has established a Local Authority Transfer Fund (LATF).
The Department of Education has developed several standards to improve safety and suitability of the school environments, such as the School Safety Manual for schools and the Comprehensive School Health Policy. Specifically related to learners with disabilities, the 2003 Persons with Disability Act lays down their rights to accessibility and mobility, including barrier-free and disability-friendly environments to enable them to have access to buildings, roads and other social facilities (Section 21). As subsidiary legislation, the 2009 Persons with Disabilities, Access to Employment, Services and Facilities Regulations seeks in particular to promote accessibility to education (Regulation 9).
The provision of barrier-free physical and social learning environment has been also recommended by the Taskforce on Special Education and has been set out as priorities for the realization of Quality Learning Environment, Health and Safety in the 2018 Sector Policy for Learners and Trainees with Disabilities.
The Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) is responsible for adapting the national regular curricula to the needs of learners with disabilities, including those with hearing, visual and physical impairments. In addition, specialized and specialist curricula have been developed to cater for learners and trainees who may not access the regular schools due to their disabilities, such as learners with severe intellectual and developmental disabilities, autism and deaf blindness. However, the 2018 Sector Policy mentions that a differentiated curriculum that meets the diverse needs of all learners and trainees with disabilities needs to be developed and implemented.
The KICD seeks to address gender issue in the development of curriculum and curriculum support materials.
As set out the 2010 Policy Framework for Nomadic education, the existing national curricula are expected to be adopted in all learning institutions located in nomadic regions, adapting them to adequately respond to local needs and demands. This implies the recognition of the richness of traditional nomadic pastoral knowledge and techniques and the enforcement of the local language teaching and learning as a medium of instruction at low primary education level.
The Kenya Institute of Education (KIE) is the responsible authority for the adaptation and adoption of specialized curriculum materials to cater for the needs of learners with disabilities in both primary and secondary education. In particular, the African Braille Centre produces and disseminates Braille materials to schools and units for blind learners, while Kenyan Sign Language (KSL) is used as a means of communication for deaf learners.
The 2006 National Information and Communication Technology (ICT) strategy for Education and Training encouraged the use of IT in educational institutions to improve the quality of teaching and learning. The strategy aimed to favourite learning opportunities for students with disabilities, including those with impaired hearing and vision. The NESP 2013-2018 includes among its objectives the setting and implementation of comprehensive legal, policy and institutional framework for ICT integration in education at all levels and the development of adequate capacity for ICT integration for the entire education sector. Against this backdrop, the 2018 Sector Policy for Learners and Trainees with Disabilities intends to provide and maintain assistive device, and adopt new technologies to improve learning and training for learners with disabilities. TVET institutions providing training to youth with disabilities have established laboratories, which support integration of ICT in training courses.
The need to reform education assessments to effectively include differentiated modes more suitable for learners and trainees with disabilities has been reaffirmed in the 2018 Sector Policy for Learners and Trainees with Disabilities.
With reference to teacher training on inclusion, Education for Marginalized Children in Kenya (EMACK) and Child Friendly Schools (CFS) initiative are examples of In-service Education Training.
Teacher training on dealing with learners with disabilities is currently provided at the Kenya Institute of Special Education (KISE) for both pre-service and in-service training of up to three months and at the Kenyatta University, which provides a Bachelor programme in Education Degree with specialization in Special Needs Education. The degree programme includes training on early identification.
Training for teachers with disabilities is provided for different levels of education in three Teacher Training Colleges, one of which is the Kenyan Sign Language that offers three months teacher in-service training course.
As acknowledged by the 2018 Sector Policy for Learners and Trainees with Disabilities, the regular teacher education does not adequately incorporate training on catering for the needs of learners and trainees with disabilities. The Policy therefore intends to facilitate and improve quality professional development of personnel working with learners and trainees with disabilities by setting minimum standards valid for all institutions providing pre-service and in-service programmes for educators and staff and by supporting the recruitment and redeployment of concerned personnel. SNE teacher training curriculum has also been developed and implemented, thus providing specialized teachers to implement the adapted and specialized curriculum.
As far as pre-service training is concerned, the NESP 2013-2018 also points out the need to strengthen training opportunities for special needs teachers in, among others, functional assessment, speech therapy and autism and to introduce a skills-based evaluation for the programme in special educational needs.
Not only teachers are supposed to be involved in the capacity building enhancement but also trainers, caregivers, parents, educational managers, learning support assistants and technical disability-related personnel.
The 2013 Education and Training Sector Gender Policy aims to institutionalize a gender responsive and inclusive quality curriculum for teacher education and development. The need to reform teacher education curricula at all levels in order to incorporate cross-cutting themes such as gender sensitivity has been also reaffirmed in the NESP 2013-2018.
With reference to gender and special needs education, the 2013 Education and Training Sector Gender Policy aims to ensure adequate and gender-balanced staffing in Special Needs Education (SNE) institutions and to develop gender responsive capacity-building programmes for teachers and managers in special needs education.
People living in rural or remote areas
The 2010 Policy Framework for Nomadic education intended to recruit teacher-trainees from the nomadic regions, in particular female teacher-trainees with the purpose to create education role models in the communities. Incentives to motivate teachers to work in nomadic regions as well as in-service training focused on nomadic conditions were supposed to be provided.
Kenya provides annual education reports. Data is made available through the Kenya Open Data.
The National Education Management Information System (NEMIS) periodically collects and manages the data on enrolled learners with disabilities by education levels and type of disabilities. According to the 2010 Policy Framework for Nomadic education, county- based nomadic education database was expected to be developed to collect data on nomadic education and integrate it with the national EMIS.
In the new 2019 national census form, a third gender, intersex, was added and new tribal categories for indigenous people created. For some indigenous tribes, who has been traditionally either not counted or grouped together with larger tribes, this acknowledgment might lead these communities to see recognise the right to use their language in schools.
The NESP 2013-2018 acknowledges the need to improve the EMIS functions. In particular, it aims to establish a decentralised and integrated Education data Management System (EMIS)and education sector Integrated Financial Management System (IFMIS) within Headquarters and at all 47 Counties, institutionalise County and National planning processes through County Education Data banks and develop a sector wide EMIS Coordination Policy Framework.
The 2018 Sector Policy explicitly mentions the need to strengthen strategies for Implementation and monitoring.