There were absolutely no facilities for children with learning disabilities to go to school in the Thinu area of Machakos district before Advantage Africa initiated this project. Working with local partner organisation Ngalani Rural Development Centre and Thinu Primary School we have built and equipped a special education unit which has been approved by government inspectors and was opened to pupils in 2012.
The Ministry of Education have supplied a qualified special needs teacher and the project pays for two house mothers and a cook who look after the children’s welfare and safety. Some of the most underprivileged children, who previously had no chance of an education are now learning in a safe and caring environment , and have a chance to reach their full potential.
Many Kenyan children with learning disabilities or physical disabilities are kept at home, separated from their community and denied a normal life. Families can be ashamed of their disabled children because of the prevailing negative attitudes and stigma associated with disability, or they may be over protective for similar reasons. The provision of appropriate educational facilities is a major step towards encouraging the inclusion of disabled children in all aspects of community life. This starts with a child’s integration into a primary school setting where other young children interact with them and attitudes can begin to change.
The wider community becomes aware that children with learning disabilities have the potential to learn and flourish and for the first time parents can see that their children are included in established social norms.
Unfortunately there is still that negative attitude towards these children in our community, this is evidenced by the names they get called, like ‘Kiwete’ a Kiswahili word meaning ‘crippled’. We are working to change these attitudes day by day
Mr Benson Nzioki, Head Teacher, Thinu Primary School.
Thank you to British Foreign School Society and Foedergemein in German for their kind support to this project