MKU joins an event to mark the Global Dyslexia awareness month
Remarks by Prof. Deo JAGANYI, Vice-Chancellor during dyslexia awareness dinner on Thursday, 13th October, 2022at the old mutual towers, upper hill, Nairobi.
- Ms. Nana Gichaga ,Chief Executive Officer, KICC ,
- Dr. Ezekiel Mutua, MBS, Chief Executive Officer, Music Copyright Society of Kenya,
- Kendy Mbugua, Chief Executive Officer, KenStar Events
- Management and staff of Dyslexia Organisation of Kenya.
- Members of Press present,
- Distinguished, Invited Guests,
- Ladies and Gentlemen,
I wish to pass warm regards to all of you from Mount Kenya University fraternity. Allow me to thank the organizers of this event for this invitation. It is indeed an honour and a great privilege for us as a University to be here this evening.
2.0 Dyslexia Organization of Kenya
First, allow me to appreciate the milestone achievements by Dyslexia Organization, Kenya (DOK) whose mission is to create public awareness and intervention strategies for dyslexia, a learning condition that affects many school-going children in our country. Your Eleven (11) years of existence has witnessed commendable efforts notably in advocacy to ensure people with dyslexia receive timely interventions, policy formulation, training and awareness, screening and assessment of people with dyslexia.
Today, we join the world in celebrating October as the Global Dyslexia awareness month and this will go a long way in consolidating all the interventions in management of Dyslexia in our country , the region and globally . Indeed, we are all going to light_it_red as per today’s theme Go Red For Dyslexia. Allow me to appreciate the lovely children who have made the awesome presentations as part of awareness.
3.0 Mount Kenya University’s role in Inclusive practices
Allow me to share a few words with you about Mount Kenya University (MKU) and indicate the relevance of this event to the University and vise-versa.
MKU is a Chartered ISO 9001:2015 Certified University with a regional presence in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Somaliland, and Somalia. MKU’s 2020-2029 Strategic Plan mandates the University to serve through teaching, research and community engagement or community outreach as a 3-pronged mandate of the university. MKU’s academic Character emphasizes on science, technology and humanities. MKU offers an all-rounded education including moral and professional education to all persons irrespective of religion, race, gender, political affiliation, social or cultural background.
Additionally, Ladies and Gentlemen, MKU is the United Nations Academic Impact Hub for Sustainable Development Goal No. 10 on Reduced Inequalities. Dyslexia may, and indeed, it does bring about a notable element of inequality among some of the members of the society. Living with a reading disability occasioned by a discord between speech sound and letters and words indeed affects self-esteem and self-confidence of all people across the spectrum. MKU and other partners to play a supportive role in reducing the negative effects of Dyslexia by providing learner-friendly services. The initiatives may include teaching decoding skills using decodable reading materials, use innovative multisensory methods and Assistive Technology for dyslexia to teach.
Ladies and Gentlemen, from an African perspective, when an area of intervention is needed in life, we always as Africans, come together and join hands in support. By coming together as we are here today gives us an opportunity to destigmatize the challenge as perceived within the community and create positive awareness without distorting facts.
Granted the aforementioned, and also considering that we are all stakeholders, allow me to make the following observations;
- That on the overall, our country has so far made great strides in the promotion of Inclusion as well as Diversity and Equity in all sectors of life and especially in education sector by supporting learners with reading difficulties through training of special education teachers. However, it is key to note that people with dyslexia, more so, learners continue to experience teasing, bullying and feelings of exclusion. I am happy to note that there is progress in integrating learners with reading difficulties in higher education where for instance at Mount Kenya University, we have come up with policies and regulations to support Inclusion.
- Additionally, there is still some more effort required before we consider ourselves as having succeeded in the war against discriminating practices targeting members with reading difficulties within the society. I would recommend frequent fora where like-minded persons, and relevant organizations come together to share on the gains made on expanding our understanding of dyslexia especially on causation and remediation and discuss openly the gaps such as the effects dyslexia has on peoples’ lives in general and on their self-concepts and self-esteem as solutions towards inclusion.
- We need to motivate special learners to work harder and succeed in education. In various educational projects, special persons or persons abled differently need to have a representation. May be as a group of people who understand what it takes to have persons abled differently succeed through the education system from basic to higher education could consider mentoring and recognizing special learners’ efforts. This would involve all categories of persons enabled differently including those with dyslexia. Once we implement these supportive strategies, we shall certainly be reaching out to more special learners in a way that shall encourage them advance their education all the way to doctorate levels in what will be a per excellence achievement.
A justification for the aforementioned is offered by Dr. Jane Nyutu, Co-founder, Mount Kenya University and Director of Mind and Beyond Counselling Centre, who says persons enabled differently need special support and encouragement so that they never get to perceive themselves as burdens in the family or in the community. Hence, there is a need to have the systems well in place to support everyone in an all-inclusive manner.
MKU has continued to ensure easy access to the differently enabled persons and promoting equal opportunities where everybody has a chance to reach their full potential. The university in its various fora has put in place measures to demystify myths, attitudes and perceptions to improve human experience of everyone where everyone feels a sense of belonging. The university through her affiliate TV47 has continued to disseminate knowledge that disability is not inability through a popular programme, Beyond the limit.
Guided by relevant policies including Gender and Disability policies that champion inclusion for all, the School of Education, school of Social Sciences and College of Health Sciences host programs geared towards capacity building and professional training on disabilities- support. These include counselling psychology, sociology, special needs education and health science-related courses.
In conclusion, we once again thank Dyslexia Kenya for this invitation. We also wish all stakeholders the best as we look forward to fruitful engagements in support of inclusivity in all institutions and within the society.
Thanks for your attention.
PROF DEO Jaganyi,
Thursday, 13th October 2022