Kenya National Library Service / Meru Public Library has shared results of its pioneering education service for children with special needs, which was launched with a small grant from the EIFL Public Library Innovation Programme (EIFL-PLIP).
In many parts of Kenya, special needs children struggle with barriers to education.
To address these issues, Meru public librarians designed an outreach service to support education of special needs children. The services uses tablet computers pre-loaded with educational content related to the Kenyan primary school curriculum to help the children to study, and e-readers with over 1,500 books to build their reading skills.
In less than a year (2016/17), the service reached over 160 children in six schools for children living with disability, street children, orphans, and children of women prisoners.
‘MY SON STARTED IMPROVING!’
“After being trained with the tablet computer, using the applications with phonetic sounds and songs, my son, started improving and right now he can write three-letter words like cat, bat, mat, and so on. His memory has improved gradually and I believe it will keep improving. I am asking the library to lend us the tablet so that he can use it at home with my guidance,” Evans Mutuma, parent of a child with autism, told librarians.
The service has won recognition from across the community, and has created a special bond with parents, who have formed a Special Needs Support Club and are raising funds to expand and sustain the service. The service has also inspired two more public libraries - in Thika and Kilifi - to initiate similar services for special needs children in their communities.
Meru Public Library was one of 29 public libraries that took part in EIFL’s capacity building initiative for public librarians in Kenya, which trained librarians to develop new services that meet community information needs. Towards the end of the training, participants were invited to apply for matching grants to fund services developed using ideas and skills gained during training.
Read more about EIFL’s Capacity Building Initiative for Public Librarians in Kenya.