Advocating for Inclusive Education Amidst Covid-19 Crisis
Inclusive education means that all learners attend a school in age-appropriate, regular classes and are supported to learn, contribute and participate in all aspects of the life of the school, in a common learning environment. Therefore, inclusive education is a desirable pedagogical model.
This year, the world has had to adjust and adapt new normalcy of doing things due to the corona virus pandemic. For example , school being closed, the education sector has had to find new ways for the continuity of learning. One of the strategies that has been put in place is remote learning. However for learners with disabilities especially in pastoral communities, remote learning has posed as challenge to them. For instance when we talk about remote learning, most children with disabilities are unable to access internet connectivity, thus brings inequality. In addition,most of the children with disabilities from developing countries were accessing their meals in schools now since schools are closed, the children sleep hungry. In terms of accessing remote education,learners with disabilities are disadvantaged.
Children with disabilities are at the heart of NONDO’s theory of change. This lead us to advocate and call for action on how these children can be accommodated when it comes to remote learning. Through our annual event :The Desert Wheel Race , we decided to focus on children with disabilities under the theme: “ Education:Inclusive Covid-19 Interventions for children with disabilities.
As a norm, prior to the Desert Wheel Race, a national disability conference is usually held ,whereby different stakeholders come together to discuss on disability mainstreaming. This year it was a bit different in that it was a virtual conference.The national conference was attended by different stakeholders and policy makers to discuss on matters education and disability and how to rethink of strategies on how to include learners with disabilities in continuity of learning remotely. Some of the Stakeholders included : Fred Haga, Senator Abshiro Halake,Sylvia Mochabo,Lydia Chege of KISE and to make it more inclusive , a sign language interpreter Winnie Adoyo among many other participants. Some of the concerns that were expressed by these key stakeholdres include: inequalities in internet connectivity and lack of accessibility. It was also noted that parents had a challenge on whether to chase livelihoods or to play the role of teachers, something that was a challenge to the caregivers of children with disabilities. By the end of the conference challenges were outlined. It was a successful conference culminated by solutions on how to rethink of strategies to make sure that learners with disabilities are not left behind in continuity of remote learning.
Finally, we held a mock race at Almasi Children’s Village where the Desert Wheel Race started.Those in attendance included : Sen. Abshiro , Representatives from Isiolo County government, the Almasi Childrens’ Community and a few participants of the Desert Wheel Race.
Apart from the mock Desert Wheel Race, one of the interesting part of the event was when the children from Almasi recited a poem which had a very powerful message urging them to be included. One of the ladies who is also a pencil artist presented an art drawing to Sen. Abshiro and CEO of NONDO, Harun Hassan.
Indeed , it was a great event. Our hope is that the children with disabilities will not be left behind and that the government will rethink of strategies to include them .
Hopefully, next year the Desert Wheel Race is will be bigger and better with physical participation when we return to normalcy.