OPINION: Agony of parents paying over Ksh.200K for special needs learners
There is not so much information out there regarding special needs institutions in Kenya, and so most parents end up leaving their children to institutions or individuals with the least of qualifications to handle their children’s development.
I have parents who are paying up to Ksh.200, 000/= per year to institutions to “take care” of their special needs’ children, an exorbitant amount to spend by all means.
In a number of these institutions that I have had the privileges of visiting, the children spend the entire day sleeping; they basically spend their entire day passive with no meaningful intervention going on.
The workers or caregivers are not trained further hurting the development of these learners and this is why the majority of the special needs learners experience very low transition rates.
I had an engagement with a parent whose child has been having speech therapy for the past three years. No meaningful improvement but the parent chunks Ksh.25,000/= to the facility every month.
There is also very little information out there on a number of good institutions there for the children with special needs.
I visited Kaizora school for autistic children but had troubles asking around since nobody knew it. A good school but little information out there.
Most parents are therefore stuck with children whose developmental needs they are unable to meet.
We are also looking at a very poor support system for these parents. The burden of caring for learners with special needs is too great for a parent to bear…, the single parents are even having it more rough.
Our support systems are down, where, for instance, can I get information on how to play with autistic children, or how to interact with learners who are visually impaired.
The special education teachers out there are few and so we have non-trained professionals handling the developmental needs of the child – disaster!
In the light of all these challenges, there seems to be growing conversations regarding special education in Kenya, and we feel we must expand these engagements to give these learners a chance.
Calvin Omondi is a Special Education practitioner (teacher) and a post graduate student at the Kenyatta University in Nairobi.
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