The potential for UDL in facilitating inclusive education in Kenya

Article written by Alan Bruce

In 2023 ULS initiated a series of activities looking at the needs and capabilities of the education sector in Kenya. ULS has a long-standing engagement with learning innovation in developing societies. Issues around inclusion, capacity building and enhancement of educational access take on added urgency in environments that have been impacted by colonialism and external domination. ULS locates its collaboration activities in the context of emancipatory research and an unapologetic emphasis on human rights.

ULS has a long-standing engagement with learning innovation in developing societies

In 2015, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr Philomena Tanui at the NCRE Conference in California. She was completing her doctoral dissertation in the University of Arkansas on the community-based rehabilitation supports for social inclusion and work participation of young adults with visual impairment in Kenya. Her perspectives were fresh and dynamic and we had many shared interests regarding disability and inclusion. Our dialogue continued over the years. She returned to Kenya some years later and now works in inclusive education near Eldoret and as an adjunct lecturer at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology in Kakamega, Western Kenya.

In early 2023 we began a conversation around the potential of shared research and presentations to develop our perspectives and analysis around inclusive education in developing environments and to see how we could extend our interventions based on our shared values and experiences in the United States. Philomena alerted me to the forthcoming conference of ICEVI which was to be held in Nairobi in October 2023. As I had facilitated the last ICEVI Conference in Dublin in 2016, this seemed a golden opportunity to share out thoughts.

Over the summer of 2023, Philomena introduced me to Alfred Chepkwony, the dynamic and creative Assistant Director for Quality Assurance in the Kenyan Ministry of Education. The three of us began an intense discussion on education, changing needs and values. We explored in particular the potential and role of Universal Design for Learning in facilitating and accelerating inclusive educational approaches. As a result, we co-authored two papers for the ICEVI Conference. These were accepted and published – and Philomena and Alfred were able to attend and present. Our paper, Place of Universal Design Learning Approach in the Education of Learners with Visual Impairments in Inclusive Settings is available on Research Gate.

We seek to implement dynamic changes in learning innovation in Kenya and beyond

Our collaboration under the auspices of ULS has initiated a significant momentum for dialogue and debate about the best options for Kenyan education at a time of immense change. The reactions were enthusiastic and we have now been joined in our group by Dr Jane Imbunya, a senior lecturer in the Department of Policy and Curriculum Studies in Kaimosi University and a member of the Presidential Working Party on Educational Reforms in Kenya. We have an ambitious schedule and plan to publish more papers, develop projects and seek to implement dynamic changes in learning innovation in Kenya and beyond.