Kenyan Lilyann Ndanu Oyugi, a second year Ph.D. student in the Special Education, Disability, and Risk emphasis of the Department of Education at UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz School, has received a prestigious 2010 Margaret McNamara Memorial Fund (MMMF) Award from the World Bank. MMMF awards educational grants to women from developing countries whose graduate studies and future plans aim to benefit women and children in their respective regions. Commitment to this goal is an essential selection criterion. Oyugi will receive a $15,000 award to fund her dissertation data collection being carried out in Kenya between July and December 2010. Her research study focuses on “Empowering Children with Disabilities through Inclusive Education in Kenya.”
Education for children with disabilities in Kenya is still being largely provided in segregated settings, mainly boarding schools. However, research has shown that placing children with disabilities in special boarding schools leads to their segregation from peers; this, in turn, isolates them from day-to-day experiences and interactions with their typical developing peers and with the community they will live in as adults. In order to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on Education and Poverty Reduction by 2015, the Kenyan government embraced inclusive education philosophy in 2002. Inclusion of children with disabilities into regular schools helps them to achieve maximum potential in a more favorable educational and social environment. Being a relatively new philosophy in Kenya, inclusive education is facing a lot of challenges; among these being: High teacher-to-student ratios, lack of clear policy guidelines, inadequate educational resources, and negative attitudes towards children with disabilities. Oyugi’s study will investigate the attitudes of teachers toward inclusive education and the collaboration between teachers and parents in school placement of children with disabilities. The challenges they experience in implementing inclusive education will be also be examined and their recommendations on what they would wish the government and other stakeholders to do in order for inclusion to be successful will be sought.
The Margaret McNamara Memorial Fund awarded its first grant in 1983. Since then, the MMMF has helped 142 women from 58 developing countries pursue graduate studies in the U.S. and Canada.
[Lilyann Ndanu Oyugi is available for interviews; contact George Yatchisin at 805 893 5789]
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