Over the last few weeks, I visited Joy land Special Secondary which is located in Kisumu County for a number of sessions that were geared towards the promotion of technology use in education with members of the school’s mathematics club. My interaction with students from the schools dates back in August 2015 when some of the students attended the 2015 Maseno Maths Camp at Maseno University where I had volunteered for two weeks with African Maths Initiative. This school is unique in many ways, since it is one of the few secondary schools in Kenya that is geared towards promoting education for persons living with disabilities. Like in many schools in Kenya, the school is faced with teacher shortage, inadequate education enhancing facilities among others.
Persons living with disabilities have been neglected in many areas including education, entrepreneurship among other sectors. However, this unique group has a lot to offer in the transformation of our society. For instance, my interaction with Joseph, who is the chairperson of the school’s mathematics club, is very passionate about technology. While speaking to him, he mentioned that he intends to study Chemical Engineering. From Maseno Maths Camp, Joseph has shown a lot of interest in computer programming. I can vividly recall that upon introduction to Scratch, he was able to create animations using the programming software. He has been very keen to understand programming concepts as well as use educational materials by Rachel that we introduced in the school. In the last two weeks when I visited the school, he was keen to ask questions about education technology using Rachel and other computer based education applications.
Joseph represents thousands of other students who live with disabilities in Kenya. According to estimates by UNICEF, the proportion of PLWD in Kenya is about 10% of the total population. About 25% of these are children of school going age. Only 90,000 have been identifies and assessed and only 14000 are integrated in education programs for PLWD. There is need therefore to increase education opportunities for students living with disabilities as well as promote the quality of education among this special group of students.
If offered the opportunity to interact with technology in early stages, student living with disabilities can be able to discover hidden passions in technology increase their knowledge in a number of disciplines and promote self learning. This will also they have the potential to lead fulfilling lives and to contribute to the social, cultural and economic vitality of our country .According to Mrs Pamela, who is the schools mathematics teacher, the education materials from Rachel that were introduced to students will be helpful to them. They can now be able to access videos, puzzles and quizzes not only in mathematics but also other disciplines such as biology and chemistry.
Due to this reason therefore, there is a need to increase support through funding technology related programs and training teachers for students living with disabilities on education technology.
In the meantime, I am looking forward to having exciting sessions with students and teachers from the school when schools reopen next term in May.