The world marked the 4th International Day of Education amidst growing polarization and gaping inequalities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The choice to continue this current trajectory or ‘radically change course’ is pressing and heavily biased towards disrupting education systems. In the past, these systems have underserved and often excluded vulnerable learners when education is their only hope for self-determination. 

The National Special Needs Education Survey (NSNES) established that the prevalence of disabilities among Kenyan children aged 0-21 years was 13.5%, comparable to the global estimate of 15%. Despite this percentage and the critical need to educate children with disabilities (CWD’s), the study found that the resources and structures in schools were not adequate and relevant for learners with disabilities. 

Other factors that bar CWDs from education are the unavailability of assistive devices, lack of care and protection for CWDs in schools, parental knowledge gaps, and insufficient advocacy. These statistics indicate gross exclusion practices that can only improve through structural transformation and public participation. By interrogating the root of the inequality and redefining how we relate as a society, fewer learners will be left behind. 

A volunteer at The Action Foundation engaging a student in learning

A volunteer at The Action Foundation engaging a student in a learning activity


The Action Foundation (TAF) is tirelessly working to change some of these root issues in its project areas through:

  • Early Intervention Services 

Early intervention can improve outcomes in the health; language; and cognitive, social, and emotional development of CWDs. For their caregivers, it helps them effectively care for their children, gain knowledge and access to support systems, and advocate for comprehensive services. 

TAF’s Tunza program helps lay the foundation for children’s long-term development, wellbeing, and learning by providing free early intervention services including occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, nutrition, and pediatric care.

Because these activities cannot thrive without parental involvement, these interventions are supplemented by Tunza’s responsive caregiving training and Somesha’s home learning support The empowerment of caregivers is a critical component of care interventions for children with developmental disorders.

  • Supporting enrolment and retention in Early Childhood Education

 TAF’s Somesha program enhances the achievement of desired foundational learning skills. It uses technology to create and provide accessible learning content for CWDs. The Somesha program uses phonics, audio-visual materials, closed captioning, and sign language to ensure accessibility to all children. This increases enrollment and transition to pre-school. Further, the program enhances confidence in caregivers and teachers to meet the unique needs of CWDs and enhances literacy and numeracy skills in CWDs.

Once a  child has gained from early childhood interventions, the organization works to aid their transition into the school system. For CWDs, enrollment and sustained attendance are filled with pitfalls that mainly lie in school infrastructure and the availability of special needs educators or teachers that are sensitized to their unique needs. 

To ease this transition for all parties, TAF conducts teacher training in inclusive early childhood education and sensitization workshops for headteachers to learn disability-inclusive child safeguarding policies, procedures, and practices. 

  • Women & Girl Empowerment

Women and girls with disabilities are disproportionately affected by inequalities in education. They face marginalization, attitudinal and environmental barriers that lower their economic and social status. TAF’s Ibuka program not only provides intergenerational mentorship but also runs vocational skills and entrepreneurship training. This training ensures that they can generate income, have decent work, and partial to complete economic autonomy. 

Furthermore, the program facilitates girls with disabilities’ participation in STEM and the opportunities it provides. Ibuka conducts STEM boot camps and workshops so that the girls can pursue further education and future employment in these fields. With STEM they can also perform daily financial and household tasks or work in microfinance programs.

These programs and approaches culminate in the understanding that learning must empower ALL learners with the mindsets and competencies to participate in sustainable development economically and socially. “Moving education to the epicentre of transformation and making it meaningful for every person involves a political and societal shift to strengthen the public functions of education as a shared endeavor.” UNESCO 2022