Inclusive Education in Kenya

Aside from the magic its tourism board asserts, Kenya has provided for the rights and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities in the country. It has paved the way for the establishment of the National Council for Persons with Disabilities and the National Development Fund for Persons with Disabilities, fining anyone who would offend PWDs with up to twenty thousand shillings or to a year of imprisonment.

The Kenya Persons with Disabilities Act 2003 has exempted PWDs as well from paying for the recreational facilities owned or operated by the Government. Materials, articles and equipment, including motor vehicles, could also be exempted from import duty, value added tax, demurrage charges, port charges, and any other government levy if they are modified or designed for PWDs.

In the country’s courts, Kenyan PWDs do not have to pay legal fees. The latter—may they be the victim or the accused—have been entitled to free sign language interpretation, Braille services and physical guide assistance.

All television stations in Kenya shall provide for a sign language inset or sub-titles in all newscasts. All persons providing public telephone services shall install and maintain units for persons with either hearing or visual disabilities.

Kenya’s respect for the PWDs in it started as far back as 1980 when it declared the National Year for People with Disabilities. Its Ministry of Education even initiated the Educational Assessments and Resource Services to improve its services for special education students.

Four years after the Kenya Persons with Disabilities Act 2003 has been passed, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was signed. It was ratified the next year and became the basis for the National Kenyan Constitution in recognizing disability rights.

Locally, Kenya has been helped by the United Disabled Persons of Kenya (UDPK) that consists of the Kenya National Association of the Deaf, Kenya Society of the Physically Handicapped, and other organizations. It has appointed a taskforce to review the laws related to PWDs and collect the public views.

Internationally, it has five international organizations to assist PWDs: the Christian Blind Mission (CBM), the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF), the Sightsavers, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, and the Leonard Cheshire Disablity.

The CBM Kenya has been working against “blinding trachoma” and aims to eliminate the disease completely by 2019. It was funded by the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust carrying out surgeries, distributing antibiotics, educating communities, and improving environmental conditions to prevent trachoma.

The DREDF, first established in Berkeley, California in 1979, is a legal service center backing up disability rights. It has started the Disability and Media Alliance Project http://d-map.org/ to bring the disability community and the media industry together, and continues to shape the legal and policy strategies needed to promote its vision in the United States and worldwide.

The Sightsavers, on the other hand, believes that 80% of blindness in the world is avoidable. So it has helped the citizens of India, Africa, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Sudan, and Ghana with eye problems.

It has also assisted 13-year-old Flash Odiwuor even though he has another kind of ailment: polio. He was struck down with it and lost the use of both his legs. Only through the Sightsavers’ inclusive education program was he able to go back to school—at the Nyaburi Integrated Primary School, to be exact—along with other Kenyans who can see.

The IFES has more or less the same vision as the DREDF: it aims to empower the underrepresented. But unlike the DREDF that focuses on everything that entails a legal process, the IFES has provided technical assistance to election officials so that everyone can participate in the said political process.

The Leonard Cheshire has pioneered inclusive education strategies for girls with disability in Kenya. It has targeted 2,050 female PWDs in 50 primary schools in the Lake Region.

“I am so happy to be back at school. The headmaster gave me a wheelchair so I can now move around as much as I want.” ~ Flash Odiwuor

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Luke Sniewski

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Being SPED-ready

In the Philippines, an educational institution has become “SPED-ready”: the Carmona National High School (CNHS) in Cavite.

“SPED-ready” is a term The PWD Forum will use from now on in describing schools that let students—with disabilities or none—learn together. It was its belief to either integrate special education to the basic and secondary curriculum of the schools in the Philippines or teach sign language. It would help the country’s economy if almost all of its citizens are skilled and, since its population is ageing, everyone is qualified to meet the labor demands of globalization.

So for its part, the CNHS has launched socialization activities that give practical training to PWDs. “Hindi namin itinatago ang mga [estudyanteng may] IDs (intellectual disability) ditto (Here, we do not hide our students with intellectual disabilities),” CNHS principal Teresita Silan was quoted in a report.

It has inspired high school student Bernadette Levardo to hang out instead of tucking herself in. She now aims to be a chef, buy a house, and own a restaurant.

“Through the transition program, Bernadette was trained, she improved her social skills, and it boosted her confidence. I was even amazed she was able to deliver a speech just recently in senior high school,” her teacher, Estie Manguiat, has remarked in the same report.

Integration could allow PWDs and non-PWDs alike to develop their skills and interact independently. Even Student Inclusion Division head Nancy Pascual of the DepEd central office has come to see that development and social adaptation are much faster with interaction.

In CNHS, this is done through a seating arrangement that lets PWDs and non-PWDs sit together. Non-SPED educators are also regularly trained to be sensitive to a PWDs’ needs and pace of learning by the local government’s Persons with Disability Affairs Office (PDAO). The school has forged partnerships with fast food chains and factories in their town, too, to promote employment.

As of now, the Philippines can already boast of schools that are “SPED-ready”. The only thing to work on is an “upgrade” of these educational institutions into learning resource centers (LRCs) to get a mainstream school enroll PWDs.

“Specialized equipment are lodged in the learning resource centers. Any school that has PWD enrollment will be able to access it anytime of the year. This addresses the financial side. Instead of going to SPED schools far from their homes, they could just enroll in the nearest school to their residence, which is not necessarily a SPED center.” ~ Nancy Pascual

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Rappler

Turning Three!

In its third year, The PWD Forum has continued advocating for the integration of special education to the basic and secondary curriculum of the schools in the Philippines.

It has done so by reporting about how “PWD-friendly” some countries are by discussing the legislations each has in governing its citizens with disabilities (Israel, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Bahamas).

It has also shared the stories of the persons with disabilities from the said countries who didn’t let their disabilities stop them (Mohamed Dalo, Jiří Ježek, Martin Kovář, Běla Hlaváčková, Petra KurkováTownsely Roberts, Gary Russell).

The PWD Forum has enumerated the organizations present in the same countries and described how each has been doing what they can for the PWDs in their midst1 2 3 4. It has listed the disabilities recognized in the world today; discussed which of these is common in Netherlands, Czech Republic, and Bahamas; and introduced a first-of-its-kind summit that happened last February 22-24, 2017.

The PWD Forum still believes in integrating special education to the basic and secondary curriculum of the schools in the Philippines. It would help the country’s economy if almost all of its citizens are skilled and qualified to meet the labor demands of globalization. And since its population is ageing, everyone is very much needed on the labor market. PWDs should then be given chances to contribute to its welfare.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that every individual has the opportunity to receive a high-quality education, from prekindergarten to elementary and secondary, to special education, to technical and higher education and beyond.” ~ Jim Jeffords

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Lei Pico

1Those in Israel: https://thepwdforum.wordpress.com/2016/09/16/help-in-israel/

2Those in Netherlands: https://thepwdforum.wordpress.com/2016/10/28/help-in-netherlands/

3Those in Czech Republic: https://thepwdforum.wordpress.com/2017/01/13/help-in-czech-republic/

4Those in Bahamas: https://thepwdforum.wordpress.com/2017/04/07/help-in-bahamas/

5http://www.tribune242.com/news/2015/dec/02/why-its-so-important-end-disability-discrimination/

PWD Complaints

In the Philippines, persons with disability can only avail of one discount scheme: the promo discount or the discount mandated by the Republic Act 9442.

“There is also another law that exempt PWD discount from value added tax, which is Republic Act 10754,” explained Carmen Reyes Zubiaga, acting executive director of the National Council on Disability Affairs, in an email.

“Value added [tax] is only 12%. The computation should be as follows—VAT inclusive Retail Price less 12% VAT and less 20% discount,” she added.

This goes without saying that if a good or service has already excluded the value-added tax from the cost, a PWD can still avail of the promo discount and/or the PWD discount provided that the price of goods or service in promo is entitled to the value added tax.

“For the availment of discount instead of promo, you have to ask the regular price of the procedure. However, you also have to check if the discounted price [already] includes VAT (if the product is VATable). Also, look for proof that the product is discounted (public announcement, fliers, approval of DTI and other approving entities).”

For further inquiries about the discounts and privileges of PWDs in the Philippines, Dir. Zubiaga advised to visit the NCDA.

“The worst thing about a disability is that people see it before they see you.” ~ Easter Seals

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Julia Davila

 

Paralysis in Bahamas

Lack of mobility due to paralysis or dismemberment of 21% Bahamian males and 25% Bahamian females has been the most common form of disability in the Bahamas (2010, Department of Statistics). In the United States, about 5.4 million are with it.

Paralysis is the loss of muscle function of the body brought about by stroke, spinal cord injury, and multiple sclerosis. It has no cure but it can be addressed to. There are wheelchairs designed for people with good upper body muscle strength (manual type) and for those with poor upper body muscle strength (electric type).

If it is a limb that has to be improved, however, orthoses are the alternative. They are actually braces, usually made of plastic or metal, that are either designed to transfer force from a functioning wrist to paralyzed fingers (wrist-hand orthoses), to help people with lower limb function move their feet while walking (ankle-foot orthoses), and to stabilize the knee and ankle of people with tetraplegia (knee-ankle-feet orthoses).

Other technologies include the epidural spine stimulation, which can restore movement; brain-computer interfaces (BCIs), which can which link the brain to a computer or an external device, such as a prosthetic limb; and exoskeletons, which can fit onto a person’s head like a swimming cap so that the changes emanating from the brain can be measured in electrical waves.

“Worrying paralyzes progress; prayer, preparation and persistence ensures it.”  ― T.F. Hodge

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the Doctors’ Circle

Help in Bahamas

Dotting the archipelagic state of The Bahamas are eight organizations caring for persons with disabilities: the Disabled Persons’ Organizations, the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, Bahamas Down Syndrome Association, Bahamas Alliance for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Northern Bahamas Council for the Disabled, Bahamas Association for the Physically Disabled, and Eyes wide Open.

The oldest is the DPO. It was founded in 1981 that advocates for the rights and equality of PWDs, and provides support and services where possible.

The youngest is the Department of Social Services Disability Affairs and Senior Citizens Division. It was instituted last year to provide opportunities for empowerment, as well as ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities.

In between are the Bahamas Alliance for the Blind and Visually Impaired, which supports and assists persons who are blind and visually impaired; the Bahamas Down Syndrome Association, which intends to change the mentality of the society regarding children with Down syndrome and educate those who do not have it; and the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, which carries out the provisions of the Persons with Disabilities Act.

After it was formally constituted and appointed in December 2014, the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities has gone on amending the Road Traffic Act and Housing Act; initiating awareness; exploring policies and initiatives; addressing discrimination; and registering PWDs as well as the organizations for them in the Bahamas.

Other organizations for the PWDs in the Bahamas are the Northern Bahamas Council for the Disabled, the Bahamas Association for the Physically Disabled, and the Eyes wide Open.

“Every person with a disability — whether they have physical impairments, development or learning impairments, sensory or visual, hearing and speech impairments — every one, has the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Every person with a disability has the right to be included and participate in society. Every person with a disability has the right to full protection under the law, and the right to equal access and opportunities to health care, education, employment and transportation.” ~ Melanie Griffin

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the ZNSNetwork

Townsely Roberts & Gary Russell

The Bahamas has two citizens one may not consider persons with disabilities: Townsely Roberts and Gary Russell.

Roberts is an accountant. He graduated from The College of the Bahamas in 1995 with an associate degree in Accounting and Computer Data Processing before getting employed by the company that owns Wendy’s and Marco’s Pizza for the next 20 years as an accountant manager.

His greatest benefit was the support of his mother and teachers. Her mother who just listened when the doctor told her that Roberts had to have his left leg above the knee amputated (a peanut butter and jelly jar had been thrown at the back of Roberts’ knee when he was five) and his teachers who refused to just let him sit in a corner while his classmates learn playing basketball, softball, and soccer.

Today, the former president of the Bahamas National Council for Disability (BNCD) is focused on helping other PWDs have employment in the country. He is one of those who believed that the Bahamian public must be educated “on the realities of what disability is.”

Russel is the current chairman of The Music Makers Junkanoo Group and the senior examiner of the Bahamas Compliance Commission. Right after his bones were fractured in a severe car accident when he was 23, Russell went back to his previous job in Marketing and Sales. He even became its acting general manager until the company closed. He pursued Law at The College of the Bahamas after that with an associate degree in Law and Criminal Justice then his bachelor’s and master’s at the University of Buckingham.

Prior to that, Russell worked as a chef from 1979 to 1986 and a sales marketer from 1986 to 1997. He got support from people “willing to accommodate him” all throughout then. He was taught to bathe himself, dress himself, cook for himself, climb in a cupboard, and drive.

Only the thought of not being to change quickly into a basketball gear as soon as he gets off from work tormented Russell. Still, he was able to participate at the Jackson Rehabilitation Centre in Miami. He is giving back to the culture of the Bahamas these days through the arts of Junkanoo, a Bahamian style of dance music that evolved from the traditional music of West Africa.

“It’s okay to fall. You got to learn how to fall. When you fail is how you learn, even the disabled.” ~Townsely Roberts

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the ZNS Network