Kirstin Bostelmann, CBM East Africa Regional Director presents Anne Syokau from Kawangware Primary School the winning prize for her drawing
CBM, in collaboration with the ‘Start a Library Foundation’, hosted 70 children at the August 7 memorial gardens in Nairobi, Kenya to celebrate the International Day of the African Child on 16th June 2013 .
The theme for this year’s event was ‘Eliminating Harmful Social and Cultural Practices Affecting Children with Disability, Our Collective Responsibility’. The Kenyan Government representative was in full support of inclusive education, and children present had opportunity to express their ideas on what this means through essays and drawings competition.
CBM in collaboration with the Start a Library Foundation hosted seventy children at the August 7 memorial gardens in Nairobi, Kenya to celebrate the International Day of the African Child
on 16th June 2013. The International Day of the African Child is celebrated each year in June 16. It was first initiated by theOrganisation of African Unity
in 1991 and it honours those who participated, and lost their lives, in the Soweto uprising on that day in 1976.
The theme for this year’s event was: Eliminating Harmful Social and Cultural Practices Affecting Children with Disability, Our Collective Responsibility. This was the first time that the day was being observed through the participation of children with disabilities.
It is estimated that ninety three million children in the world live with a moderate or severe disability. Additionally, children with disabilities are often regarded inferior and this exposes them to increased vulnerability. They are disproportionately denied their right to enjoy education thus denying them gainful employment and the full rights of citizenship.
Ms. Kirstin Lee Bostelmann
, the acting Regional Director for CBM East African Region, together with the chief guest Mr. Fred Haga, Senior Assistant Director of Education – Special Needs Education, used the opportunity to create awareness on the importance of involving children with disabilities in their own issues and promoting togetherness among children in Kenya.
“We at CBM believe that education is the best foundation for empowering children and families living with disabilities. As long as children with disabilities are denied equal access to their local schools, governments cannot achieve the universal primary education (MDG 2)”, noted Ms. Bostelmann.Ms. Bostelmann also noted that according to a World Health Organisation (WHO) survey of fifty one countries, only 51% of boys and 42% of girls, both with disabilities, actually completes primary school and called upon the government to increase support for inclusive education. She further noted that inclusive education would provide meaningful learning opportunities to all students within the regular school system, allowing children with and without disabilities to attend the same age-appropriate classes at the local schools, with additional individual tailored support as needed.
Government support for inclusive education
Fred Haga, Senior Assistant Director Special Needs Education, Ministry of Education presents Kawangware Primary School with the best price in the CBM competition, essay category
Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Mr. Haga confirmed that the Kenyan Government was in full support of inclusive education and had recently utilized Ksh. 400 million in aid of this exercise. Mr. Haga, went on to assure the children that the Ministry in partnership with the teachers was well aware of the challenges that children with disabilities faced and they were doing everything they could to address the challenges.
“Even when you have a difficult assignment from school, do not feel like you are alone, we at the ministry and the teachers assigned to your schools are here to help you achieve your dreams, so please do not ever feel alone’, he added.
Students from Westlands Primary School lend their voice in reciting an excerpt from “The Attack of the Shidas”
The Start a Library Foundation team provided the children with an opportunity for children with disabilities to participate in a colorful ‘read aloud’ activity that also gave them a chance to articulate their creative ideas on how to eliminate harmful cultural practices affecting society. The enthusiastic children fully participated in this creative section of the event and challenged their imagination when they were requested to create an ending for the story they were reading. The children went ahead to tickle the audiences with their “ Out of the box” conclusions.
Following the read aloud activity, the children who participated in the drawing and essay competition were presented awards for their exemplary contributions. The competition which had attracted entries from seven schools (Westlands Primary, Kambui School for the Deaf, Kilimani Primary, Kawangware Primary school, Mathari Primary school, City Primary school and Kerugoya School for the Deaf) provided the children with an excellent opportunity to express their ideas on what should be done to eliminate the social and cultural practices that affect children with disabilities in their communities.
For CBM, this was an enabling platform that served as a source of positive communication for children from different backgrounds, their teachers, parents, the NGO community, the media and other stakeholders who participated by the way of learning more about the important issues affecting children with disabilities.