On July 22nd, 2023, history was made as the Inaugural Africa Summit on Inclusive Early Childhood Care and Education took place in KISE. The theme, “Nurturing Care and Opportunities for Early Learning for Children with Disabilities,” set the stage for an incredible event that brought together change-makers and advocates from across the continent and beyond.
Organized by The Action Foundation in collaboration with the African Disability Collaboration, the Ministry of Education, and the Kenya Institute of Special Education, the Summit represented a pivotal moment in the quest for a more inclusive Africa for children with disabilities. The event’s resounding success is a testament to what can be achieved when a community rallies around a shared goal and a common purpose.
The Summit brought together over 400 participants, including government officials, educators, parents, children and youth with disabilities, civil society, and multilateral organization representatives of Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, and South Africa to deliberate on the 2023 theme “Nurturing Care and Opportunities for Early Learning for Children with Disabilities’. The Summit highlighted service provision models and innovations advancing Inclusive Early Childhood Care and Education on the continent. The vision of the African Disability Collaboration is an inclusive Africa for Children with Disabilities.
The Africa IECCE Summit provided an opportunity for participants to discuss and draw recommendations for better realization of intended results for full inclusion of all learners with a focus on inclusive early childhood care and education. These recommendations were fed into the African Summit on Inclusive Early Childhood Care and Education Communique highlighted below:-
Communique of the Inaugural African Summit on Inclusive Early Childhood Care and Education held on July 22nd at Kenya Institute of Special Education in Nairobi, Kenya
We, the 400 participants of the African Summit held on July 22nd 2023 in Nairobi, Kenya, including government officials, educators, parents, children and youth with disabilities, civil society, and multilateral organization representatives of Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, reaffirm our commitment to Inclusive Early Childhood Care and Education (IECCE) as expounded in the SDGs, International Human Rights Treaties and the Nurturing Care for Early Childhood Development Framework 2018 (A framework for helping children SURVIVE and THRIVE to TRANSFORM health and human potential).
- We acknowledge that every child matters and is a human being with dreams and aspirations like everyone else. Provided an opportunity, they will learn.
- Acknowledging that Inclusive Early Childhood Care and Education is about realizing the full potential of ALL learners. We are extending this commitment through education and training of every child based on an evolving understanding of “leave no one behind” in Inclusive Early Childhood Care and Education.
- Recognizing the role of community in owning policy formulation and implementation at the national and county levels to ensure that All children SURVIVE, THRIVE and TRANSFORM.
We recommend that:
- Mainstream disability in the development agenda. Combine all systems (Government, community administration, religious institutions, parents, and school institutions) into one functional system to support CWD in receiving the necessary services.
- There needs to be a deliberate investment in policy formulation and implementation of existing policies still sitting on the shelf. Policy formulation needs to be evidence-based.
- Apply lessons learned in IECCE to promote the inclusion of CWDs and promote policy advocacy.
- Communicate and disseminate the policies developed at the National level to the grassroots, including their translation into a language or format that the community can understand so that they can interrogate the implementation of the same.
- There is a need for a “one nation approach” to deal with early childhood care and education issues. Promote effective collaboration and partnership through a multi-sectoral approach to IECCE to have a unified impact.
- Promote awareness creation on CWDs among communities to appreciate CWDs. A child with a disability is a child first; disability comes second.
- Strengthen strategies that will create inclusive environments that promote the success of CWDs.
- Enhance early identification of CWDs to enable early intervention for empowerment;
- Regulation of schools and childcare facilities is necessary to safeguard CWDs.
- Implement and expand KISE’s Learner support assistants program to learners who are severely disabled or bedridden and cannot attend school.
- Curriculum review to facilitate curriculum differentiation, alternative communication methods, alternative ways of representation, and examination.
- Enhance parental and community sensitization, including forming peer networks for parents of CWDs.
- Parents and caregivers be empowered to create an inclusive and enabling environment at home, not just at school.
- Information sharing, including information derived from both the parents of the CWDs and the CWDs.
- A multidisciplinary approach is required to achieve good nutritional outcomes for ALL children.
- Enhance early identification of CWDs to enable early intervention for empowerment.