Special Needs Education at the heart of Curriculum Reforms.

The curriculum developer has allayed fears that the new system of education being piloted nationally does not cater for the needs of learners with special needs.

The Competence Based Curriculum (CBC) is all round in scope and children living with cerebral palsy and other forms of disabilities will learn in a friendly environment, according to the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD).

The Institute Director, Dr Julius Jwan said the rights of learners with special needs cannot be wished away in the development of a curriculum as such a move will amount to discrimination, which is unlawful.

“Kenya recognizes that such learners have a right to access appropriate education aimed at actualizing their potential,” Dr Jwan said yesterday in Nairobi.

He was responding to claims that the needs of learners with special needs are not factored in the curriculum that is being piloted nationally in Pre-primary 1 and 2 and grade 1 and 2. It is also being piloted in Grade 3 but in some selected schools.

KICD has provided an inclusive curriculum that is responsive to the needs of all learners by upholding the principle of differentiated learning and curriculum flexibility at all levels of education.

“Each learner is given the opportunity to achieve the set standards at their own pace based on their ability. In education it is recognized that individuals learn in different ways. The learners’ differences shape the curriculum,” Dr Jwan said.

The Basic Education Curriculum Framework categorizes learners with special needs into those who may follow the regular curriculum with few modifications and those that cannot follow due to severity of their conditions.

Those unable to follow the regular curriculum have been provided with an alternative pathway, which is stage based beginning with foundational level, to nurture their specialized skills and competencies for self-reliance.

“The main aim of education for these learners is to enable them acquire communication and social skills, daily living skills and basic work related skills for independent living,” Dr Jwan explained.

Learners in this category include those with severe cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, severe autism, deaf blindness, multiple impairments and those with profound disabilities.

Such learners face difficulties in communication and social skills, imagination, critical thinking, problem solving, eye-hand coordination and other cognitive abilities, which affect learning.

Curriculum designs for Foundation Level have already been developed and piloted  and learners will be exposed to communication, Social and Pre-literacy skills; Activities of Daily Living Skills and Religious Activities; Sensory-motor and Creative Activities; Pre-Numeracy Activities; and Orientation and Mobility Skills.

The learners can progress to Intermediate Level, Pre-vocational Level and the Vocational Level where their competencies will be nurtured to enable them become independent and reliable citizens.

Learners able to follow the regular curriculum include the Gifted and Talented (GT), those with Visual Impairment (VI), Hearing Impairment (HI), Physical Handicaps (PH), Mild Cerebral Palsy (CP), Communication Disorders (CD), Learning Disabilities (LD), and Emotional and Behaviour Disorder (EBD).

For learners with Cerebral Palsy, appropriate modifications have been made in the pre-primary 1 and 2, and grades 1-3 curriculum designs for learners with physical impairments, to enable these learners to participate in learning meaningfully.

The learning areas that have been modified include; Mathematical activities, Environmental activities and Psychomotor and Creative activities that are referred to as Movement and Creative activities in grades1-3.

These areas have been adjusted because they are likely to pose a challenge to these learners as they involve movement, manipulation, measurement, drawing and other manipulative and motor skills.

The modifications focus on learning resources and learning experiences which requires speech, manipulation and movement.