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INCLUSIVE EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT FOR CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES

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INCLUSIVE EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT FOR CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES

Summary

Early identification and intervention still stand out as the main challenge even as the stakeholders address the gaps hindering the achievement of disability-inclusive early childhood development for children with disabilities. Civil Society Organizations and NGOs are put to task to lobby, advocate, and demand the implementation of some of the pending disability policies.
Multisectoral technical working groups to monitor disability issues at the national and county level

Inclusion of rehabilitation interventions in the health policies guidelines and standard

Early identification and intervention still stand out amongst the challenges even as the stakeholders address the gaps hindering the achievement of disability-inclusive early childhood development for children with disabilities. Civil Society Organizations and NGOs are put to task to lobby, advocate, and demand the implementation of some of the pending disability policies.

In a meeting organized by the Action Foundation in collaboration with the CSOs, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Education, it was noted that some of the policies guarding the rights and privileges of persons with disabilities are yet to be implemented even as persons with disabilities still face exclusion in various sectors due to lack of awareness of the existing disability policies.

In attendance were Cheshire Disability Services Kenya’s representatives as well as other CSO representatives.

While gracing the meeting, the head of rehabilitation, at the Ministry of Health, Mr. Alex Kisianga urged the CSOs to stand firm in fighting for the rights of persons with disabilities as they have the power to lobby and advocate.

“CSOs can speak and demand other than us public officers because they have the power to lobby, advocate, and demand the government to implement some of these pending bills and policies and also you need to partner and collaborate with the government,” he said.

In the meeting, it was also realized that the government is working in old disability policies that are not favoring various aspects of disabilities hence there was a need for CSOs and NGOs to come up and recommend and push for the implementation of those policies, to enhance diverse disability inclusion.

Currently, there is a rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Strategy for 2022-2026, that is yet to be implemented and the CSOs and NGOs have been urged to take their niche from the strategy to make it a success

Maria Omare, the Executive Director, The Action Foundation in her speech challenged the participants on the importance of early childhood education experiences to one’s general life and that is why there was a need to take a keen interest in improving inclusive early childhood education for children with disabilities.

“There are so many gaps towards realizing inclusive early childhood education and that is why as CSOs we need to come out strongly and advocate for inclusivity for persons/Children with disabilities in all sectors and this is through partnering and collaborating with the government and the technical working groups,” she said.

Martha Mumasi, the chief physiotherapist of the Ministry of Health also noted that civil society organizations are doing their best to lobby for disability inclusion and therefore there is still a need to especially train the ECD teachers, caregivers, and CHPs on disability etiquette and disability-inclusive languages,

                                    The Gaps

  • Lack of knowledge in early identification and intervention
  • Transitioning process for learners with disabilities
  • Accommodative transport facilities for learners with disabilities
  • Lack of knowledge of Inclusive Education
  • Unclear curriculum for learners with disabilities
  • Poor provision of quality therapy services
  • Most resources are found in the level 4s and most people cannot afford some of the services
  • unavailability of assistive devices
  • Lack of implementation and awareness of existing policies
  • Inadequate budgets most parents are unable to cater to the services
  • Unavailability of rehabilitative services due to geographical distances
  • CHVs/CHPs lack knowledge of early identification and intervention and referral
  • Lack of access to information for the caregivers/parents
  • Poor or lack of standardization in the implementation of policies and practice – people misinterpret some policies
  • Cultural and traditional beliefs
  • Inadequate sensitization to the political class / Lack of political goodwill
  • Budgetary allocation
  • Non-prioritization to allocate funds to rehab services
  • Misrepresentation in governance and leadership
  • Lack of clear governance structure at national and county levels
  • Inadequate representation of the rehab team at the county/ national health management teams
  • Lack of access to information for the caregivers/parents
  • Poor or lack of standardization in the implementation of policies and practice – people misinterpret some policies
  • Cultural and traditional beliefs
  • Inadequate or lack of sensitization to the political class / Lack of political goodwill
  • Budgetary allocation
  • Non-prioritization to allocate funds to rehab services
  • Misrepresentation in governance and leadership
  • Lack of clear governance structure at national and county levels
  • Inadequate representation of the rehab team at the county/ national health management teams
  •  

                                    Recommendations

  • Advocating for the inclusion of rehabilitation for persons with disabilities
  • Developing an inclusive curriculum with all modules on disability etiquette
  • Sensitization of teachers and caregivers on disability etiquette
  • Initiating clubs in schools for peer advocacy
  • Need to set up a system for the inclusion of emerging disabilities
  • Need to train teachers on Inclusive Education
  • Review of the disability amendment bill; 2023
  • Waiver policy to disability services for easy accessibility
  • Exemption of taxation in the importation of disability assistive devices like a wheelchair
  • Sensitization of the healthcare workers and caregivers on disability issues
  • Sensitization of the public on existing support structures and services available
  • Inclusion of rehabilitation in the community health strategy
  • Involving the faith-based institutions and the local administration in the disability mainstreaming
  • Representation of rehabilitation in the shift regulation development
  • Creating disability monitoring groups at the county levels
  • Multisectoral technical working groups to monitor disability issues at the national and county level
  • Inclusion of rehabilitation interventions in the health policies guidelines and standard
Comments 1
  • I wish to learn more on inclusive ECDE. I am a PHD student of special needs education at maseno university.

    author
    KENNETH OKUMU MBEJA

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