The management of Kilifi Primary School for the physically and mentally challenged has sent an urgent appeal for donor support to overcome its financial crisis.
The school which was started with only five children in 1986 now has a population of 71 after awareness creation to parents who kept away their physically challenged.
The school Head teacher Mr. Phillip Ngala said many parents with such children have now known the existence of the free special education and have been wishing to bring them hence the need for more teachers and facilities.
“We now have five TSC teachers and one volunteer with four taking charge of mentally handicapped pupils and the two others in charge of cerebral palsy pupils. We require at least 15 more teachers if more pupils are to be admitted,” he said.
He said the school had been impacting the pupils with knowledge for self- reliance by first assisting them to develop their speech, fine motor skills, hygiene and social skills in the mentally handicapped and physically challenged units.
Ngala told KNA that learning process for the pupils from pre-primary to primary takes much longer to be completed as the pupils are slow in capturing the knowledge and retaining the skills.
He said apart from the normal school activities, the teachers also conduct home visits to the parents with children to sensitise them and ensure they treat the children equally with the others.
“We do not have a vehicle or boarding facilities here like other institutions. Our children learn and go back to their homes after classes. This is another major challenge for us,” he said.
Ngala said the physically challenged unit deals with physiotherapy issues and the two teachers in charge have to outsource services from Kilifi county hospital once a week.
“Awareness creation by local administrators about the existence of this institution has put it at a better position to be able to recruit more deserving children if given the necessary financial support and facilities. It is our hope that donors will come in support of both the national and county governments’ assistance,” he said.
He noted that despite the many challenges, the school had made achievements by having 12 students mastering their talents in weaving, tailoring, brick and shoe making, a positive impact to their lives as they are also made to feel part of the society.
Among the successful graduates from the school are Hamisi Bweta who stayed for 20 years and became a good brick maker, Kahindi Kazungu who is currently employed as a cook at Kibaoni primary school and Rehema Charo who specialized in the field of sports and is currently participating in the Special Olympics games.
It is estimated that there are 100,000 persons with disabilities in Kilifi County but owing to traditional beliefs that parents with such children are cursed, most of them are yet to accept change and have them registered with the national council for persons with disabilities.
According to the Kilifi North and South Sub-Counties persons with disabilities chairman Festus Tcharo said more special schools need to be started in the area to encourage and attract more parents to avail their children for learning.
He said despite the cultural challenges facing many parents with children with disabilities, regular awareness campaigns would be taken to the remote parts of the county and encourage the parents to accept change for the betterment of their children.
Speaking to the press today, Charo said after next year’s national census, the number of those physically challenged will be known in the county expressing concern that there could be more children being hidden by parents in the remote parts of the region.
“We urge our two levels of governments to come to our aid by initiating at least two special schools in every ward so that more physical challenged children can come out and nurture their talents,” he said.