Mental Handicap Account for Most Students in Primary Level Education, Hearing Impairment for Secondary – Data

Mental handicap accounts for the largest proportion of learners with disabilities in special primary schools in Kenya.

This is according to data by the Ministry of Education which reveals that on average, 53 percent of the learners with disabilities in primary schools have mental handicap.

The database further indicates 10 percent accounts for hearing impairment students, another 10 percent have physical handicap.

A further 5 percent have multiple disabilities and 17 percent have other forms of disabilities.

Visual impairment accounts for 5 percent of the learners.

The report however notes that although mental handicap accounts for the largest proportion of learners with disabilities in special primary schools, they usually do not progress to pursue secondary education.

“Whereas learners with various disabilities are enrolled at primary school level, those who transition to secondary education are mainly those with hearing, physical and visual impairments. Learners with mental and multiple disabilities rarely transition to secondary schools,” the report says.

Learners with hearing impairment make up most students at the secondary education level in special schools.

According to the report, 33 percent have physical handicap and 19 percent have visual impairment.

Increase in number

Prior to COVID-19, the ministry noted an increase in the number of special needs schools in the country.

Special Needs Education (SNE) experienced a steady increase in the number of learning institutions, with an increase from 2,865 primary schools in 2017 to 3,430 in 2019.

There was also a marginal increase in the number of special secondary schools, from 106 in 2017 to 114 in 2019.

“It is worth noting that the data on special needs institutions may not be comprehensive and is not disaggregated by gender/sex and ownership (public/private),” the report said.

The enrolment in primary schools increased from 108,221 in 2017 to 136,081 in 2019.

Secondary school enrolment increased from 4,019 in 2017 to 4,794 in 2019.

The SNE public primary institutions increased by 2 percent, from 2,865 in 2017 to 2927 in 2018 and further by 6 percent, to 3,043 in 2019.

Similarly, SNE public secondary institutions increased by 2.8 percent, from 106 in 2017 to 109 in 2018 and further by 4.6 percent, to 114 in 2019.

Enrolment in public SNE primary institutions increased by 26 percent, from 108,221 learners in 2017 to 136,081 learners in 2019.

Enrolment in public secondary institutions increased by 19 percent, from 4,019 in 2017 to 4,794 in 2019.

The increase in institutions has been accompanied by an increase in the number of special needs learners.

COVID-19 And Going Forward

“The coronavirus pandemic disrupted normal operations in the society and generated a lot of anxieties and uncertainties, including in the education sector. Resources for education programmes were re-prioritised in order to mitigate against the adverse effects of the pandemic to the society,” the ministry says.

It adds that the post-COVID-19 recovery strategies have a bearing on new data requirements and are likely to redefine key education indicators on class-size; water, sanitation, health-care and hygiene (WASH) facilities; safety in learning institutions and optimal learner-to-teacher ratios, among others.

It has also redefined the mode of working and learning, with more shift, for instance, towards virtual teaching and learning, and also community-based learning.

“Credible and timely data will also be required on the status of learning enablers, including infrastructure such as electricity and broadband connectivity across the country; and appropriate technologies for learners with disabilities and special needs in order to enhance more inclusive and equitable quality education.”

Margaret Njuguna