Persons with disabilities make up about 2.2% (0.9 million people) of our population according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics report 2019. Globally, 15 percent of the population has some form of disability. Like nondisabled persons, persons with disabilities are unique, with individual likes and dislikes, abilities, interests, and skills. Disability adds another level of diversity that we must consider in the goal of attaining a productive population and acknowledging the fact that Persons with Disabilities can contribute in a significant way to the GDP of the country if their right to decent work is promoted and protected.
The promulgation of the 2010 Constitution came with great hope and reprieve for the marginalized groups in Kenya. It assured inclusivity by dint of Article 10 on values and principles of governance whereby inclusivity and participation of the Persons with Disability is some of them. Article 27 prohibits discrimination by any means, be it gender, race, tribe, age, or disability. All these provisions have been reflected in subsidiary legislations both at National and County Government. These are the guiding principles of our governance structure that Kenya adopted when we voted in the Constitution. Further, all State organs and officers are obliged to address the needs of Special Interest Groups (SIGs) in Article 21. Additionally, Kenya is a signatory in the global Sustainable Development goals, has committed through goal 10, target 2, that by 2030, to empower and promote the social, economic, and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or another status. Target 3, to ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies, and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies, and action in this regard. However, Kenya has been on slow progress towards adopting disability-inclusive policies in the education sector. According to the study undertaken by the National Taxpayers Report 2020 on the quality of education offered in selected VTCs in Nairobi, from all the facilities assessed, there is completely no admission for persons with disabilities. This was justified by the lack of resources to undertake training for these groups and the lack of capacity of the trainers to handle the persons with disabilities. People with disabilities face challenges in education and training. Many are denied access to basic literacy and numeracy skills: it is estimated that 98% of children with physical or mental impairments in developing countries do not attend school. In all countries, disabled people may encounter discrimination and barriers to full participation in skills training and employment programmes. In Kenya, the VTCs usually only provide a limited set of skills development programmes. Further, these programmes are often either not aligned with labor market demands or designed based on the belief that persons with disabilities are only capable of working in the
informal economy. The revised recommendations concerning Technical and Vocational Education (2001) by UNESCO strongly advocate developing opportunities and appropriate learning mechanisms for people with disabilities to acquire skills for employment. This normative instrument is being disseminated widely among member states, which use it as a basis for planning and policymaking.
The National Taxpayers Association strongly recommends the Government, both National and county to develop concrete measures to make TVET systems and programmes more inclusive for the PWDs and further include building TVET staff’s capacities to teach trainees with disabilities, increasing the accessibility of TVET centers, providing reasonable accommodation and adapting entry criteria, teaching methods, materials and evaluation methods to take disability-related needs into account.
By Joshua Muteti