It’s play time just a few minutes past 4PM at St. John Primary school, located in Kibera’s Silanga village.
A few boys from class 7 can be seen gathered together outside their classrooms and are playing one of the innovative games for boys their age. Dressed in their green school uniform, they all seem easy around each other.
For a layman, it wouldn’t be easy to spot a child with any form of disability in this group, but yes there is one. This form of interaction has created an environment for equal participation of each learner in accordance to their potential and abilities.
The school, regardless of the different needs that children with disability may have, has been able to accord every pupil an opportunity to interact, play, learn and experience some form of feeling and a sense of belonging to the society.
Caleb is one of the class seven pupils here, he appreciates the fact that their school has been able to also consider children with disability from the community. “We have to play with them as this will make them feel happy and appreciated in this school.” says Caleb.
The school has embraced children with additional support needs and for Caleb, he says that there is no need for them to be abused in any way.
We must protect them when they are in bad conditions and we must support them so that God can bless us.
Caleb however says that other children without any form of disabilities sometimes laugh at the ones with disabilities and he urges the government to provide funds that can be used for purchase of buses that can accommodate their needs so as they can board and travel in comfort.
“Let the government employ more teachers who can also handle children with disability so we can all be on the same page when in school and don’t feel left out,” adds Caleb.
Mercy Mutinda, a class 6 pupils on the other hand says that children with disabilities don’t have to be abused and must be shown some love.
“I am happy that we all learn together in classes, playing with them so they don’t feel left out”
Her take is that they always need to be safe guarded especially when they are not within the premises. In most cases children with some form of disability tend to be abused and taken advantage off since they cannot speak out for themselves.
Bernard is one of the teachers at St.John’s Primary School trained in inclusive education by The Action Foundation. Teacher Bernard says that the school has about four pupils with physical disability who have been integrated within their school program. “When we teach them, we make them feel like the others not to separate them with other normal pupils.”
The school has participated in the ‘Somesha Program’ run by The Action Foundation that supports teachers to be able to meet needs of learners with disabilities and runs extracurricular activities in schools to promote inclusion and equip learners with disabilities with strategies for self-advocacy.
By Thomas Bwire