Challenges facing the education of girls with physical disabilities: a case of Joytown secondary school in Thika Municipality.
Muigai, Nancy W.
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Gender studies and programmes in various colleges and universities have not been able to bring out the plight of girls with disabilities. As a result, the unique needs and challenges of girls with disabilities have largely been ignored. Although the Kenyan government is committed to increasing school enrolment for all children, girls with disabilities continue to face numerous challenges that affect their participation in education. This study therefore sought to examine the challenges facing education of girls with physical disabilities. The study was guided by the following research objectives: to establish socio-cultural challenges encountered by girls with physical disabilities; to investigate school-related challenges faced by girls with physical disabilities; to determine socio- economic challenges encountered by girls with disabilities and to establish policy-related factors affecting the education of students with physical disabilities. The study adapted a descriptive survey design targeting 174 students, 24 teachers and the headteacher drawn from Joy town Secondary School for the Physically Handicapped. Simple random sampling was used to select 10 girls from form one, two and three classes to participate in the study. Three class teachers and the headteacher were purposively selected. The instruments used for data collection included an interview guide for teachers and headteachers, a guide for the focus group and an observation checklist. A pilot study was conducted in the same school to ascertain the validity and reliability of the research instruments. The data collected was analyzed qualitatively using thematic analysis approach. The study established that discrimination and isolation impede education of girls with physical disabilities; lack of conducive school environment and structures discourage girls with physical disabilities from continuing schooling; lack of policies that encompass all the people including those with physical disabilities, to make them self reliant and economically viable, endanger education of girls with physical disabilities and lack of sponsorship limit girls with physical handicap from furthering their education. The study recommends that the government should establish a kitty for the disabled people who cannot earn a living because of their disabilities, and make policies that govern even the disabled and their rights; the community should be more accommodating towards the girls with disabilities, and always be ready to give them a lending hand when they need help. They should not be treated differently because of their disabilities; Parents with disabled children should treat their children the same way as they treat the other children to help them build confidence in themselves. They should also treat these children as human beings and teach them to appreciate themselves as they are.