THE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT
In conjunction with the Ministry of Education and support of Sight Savers International, the Education Service department is involved in the implementation of the Kenya Integrated Education Programme [KIEP] in 34 districts in Kenya. The programme integrates visually impaired and sighted children in an ordinary school system where the same educational facilities are shared. Early childhood intervention programmes and in-service training to teachers are also supported, as well as the provision of education equipment like braille machines and paper, cassette recorders, white canes etc.
It is estimated that visually impaired children have the lowest access and participation rate in Kenya. Enrolment, attendance and completion of the formal education system is low. The GER stands has remained at less than 50%. This has been attributed to stigmatization, retrogressive cultural beliefs, poor attitudes and ignorance on potential of Visually Impaired Children (VIC) by parents. Consequently, most parents do not enrol their visually impaired children in school and a significant number of the affected children live a neglected life and are often kept away from general public.
On the other hand, it has been established that a significant number of visual impaired children face barriers in accessing quality education. For instance, due to frequent change of curriculum, teaching/learning materials, especially production the Braille books, has become expensive leading to inadequacy. It is approximated that pupil to Braille book ratio for the VIC is still at 5:1 against the recommended 1:1.
The situation is further complicated by the fact that the distribution of Braille machines is grossly inadequate given the number of schools and potential users. KIEP currently has an enrolment of 274 totally blind and1200 low vision learners. Material support has been channelled to 500 integrating primary schools,100 secondary schools and 3 teacher training colleges. However the Braille machines supplied so far cover 50% of the need.
To empower visually impaired learners in Information Technology, KIEP through the support from DFID UK is piloting a new software known as the dolphin pen.
This enables the learners to use computers just like anyone else.
So far the 200 targeted trainees have been reached. The institutions involved in this piloting are Kenyatta University, Mosoriot , Asumbi & Machakos TTCs,Moi Nairobi Girls,Kipsigis Girls, Kericho Tea, Bungoma High school and Thika High School.