In 2015 four UK parliamentarians travelled to Kenya to find out more about inclusive education: the barriers facing young people with disabilities and some of the innovative solutions that are being found.
Their report includes case studies of children with disabilities and their parents and teachers.
by Mark Williams MP, Lord Low of Dalston, Chris Heaton-Harris MP, Mike Wood MP
Education for all should mean just that, the opportunity for every child, no matter where he or she is born, to have access to a quality education. We know that having an education is an important route out of poverty, that it contributes to healthier and more stable populations and can lead to greater economic growth.
We undertook this visit to Kenya to learn about the barriers to receiving an education for children with disabilities, who are more likely to be out of school than any other group. In fact, of all the possible factors for exclusion, having a disability has been shown to have the strongest correlation with poor educational outcomes.
The barriers for those living with a disability are both physical and social. Obstacles include the stigma which still attached to disability, a lack of suitable transport to enable all children to make the journey each morning to the classroom, lack of appropriate technology and assistive devices to enable access to the curriculum, and a continued lack of resources, including adequately trained teaching staff, which must be addressed.
DFID has an important opportunity to lead its global partners on these issues and has shown good progress which we wholeheartedly welcome. The UK Secretary of State for International Development, the Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, and Baroness Verma recently launched the updated DFID Disability Framework and stated that this was the beginning of a longer journey to mainstream disability throughout the work of the department.
Only one out of every six children with a disability attends school in Kenya and our delegation considered not just access but also the ability to gain a quality, relevant and fairly assessed education. In our meetings with Kenyan government officials, with fellow parliamentarians and with those involved in education delivery in schools we saw a passion and a determination to address the barriers to education. We share this determination and hope the findings in our report can contribute to the process of the new Global Goals to ‘leave no one behind’.
One of the families we met with, who cared for their disabled daughter, said that having a child with a disability “is when poverty knocks on your door”. The determination of those we met to change this reality must be supported and harnessed to ensure that all members of Kenyan society can benefit from the development opportunities on offer as the country moves towards its vision of becoming a middle income country providing a high quality of life for all its citizens by 2030.
We would like to thank all those who met with us and made the delegation possible and offer the ongoing support of the APPG Global Education for All to continue to highlight the importance of this issue and ensure all children receive the key to unlocking their future.