KENYA: Objects of Pity or Individuals with Rights? The right to education for children with disabilities

[21 August 2007] - Children with disabilities must be entitled to free education from pre-school to tertiary level from next year, insists a new report from the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

All children, whatever their disability, are entitled to free learning on an equal basis with other children, says the report launched in Nairobi yesterday.

Free primary education on its own, the report says, cannot resolve the educational inequalities and setbacks suffered by disabled children.

The report proposes that the Ministries of Local Authorities and Education as well as the departments of social services, children, and the National Council for Persons with Disabilities and the Higher Education Loans Board, work together to effect this recommendation.

Boarding schools

The report further goes on to say that children with disabilities should learn in boarding schools rather than in day schools to ease their movement.

It recommends that for free primary education to be meaningful, the Government should cover boarding costs for children with disabilities.

Resource constraints hinder children with disabilities from travelling to and from school daily, says the report.

Whilst the proposal to ensure free education to children with disabilities at all levels is positive, the new UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities stresses, in Article 24, the importance of inclusive education to ensure children with disabilities are not discriminated against. It says that States Parties should ensure measures are taken to enable children with disabilities to access the general education system.  

"The Government should prepare clear criteria for determining schools for children with disabilities and support them in terms of teachers, resources and equipment."

The report further noted that limited awareness on the issue had increased the stigma attached to persons with disabilities.

Some parents still bar their children with disabilities from attending school as they attach no value in educating them.


[Source: The Nation/AllAfrica, UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities]

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