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The Right to Education of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Kenya



By Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD (Leading Environmental Law Scholar, Policy Advisor, Natural Resources Lawyer and Dispute Resolution Expert from Kenya), Winner of Kenya’s ADR Practitioner of the Year 2021, ADR Publisher of the Year 2021 and CIArb (Kenya) Lifetime Achievement Award 2021*

An educated person need not depend on favours as they will competently seek public offices while the person who perennially depends on handouts and favors may never achieve fulfillment in their lives. Article 43 of the Constitution guarantees every person’s right to access to education. To ensure that even PWDs fully participate in the development of the country, the first step should be to empower them through ensuring that they acquire relevant education and/or skills or training. Article 53 of the Constitution also guarantees the right of every child to access free and compulsory basic education. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) provides under Article 13(1) that the States Parties to the Covenant should recognize the right of everyone to education. It further provides that education should be directed to the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity, and shall strengthen the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. The provisions also note that education shall enable all persons to participate effectively in a free society, promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations and all racial, ethnic or religious groups, and further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

To actualize this, Article 13(2) lays out the obligations of member States by providing that primary education shall be compulsory and available free to all; secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational secondary education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education; higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education; fundamental education shall be encouraged or intensified as far as possible for those persons who have not received or completed the whole period of their primary education; the development of a system of schools at all levels shall be actively pursued, an adequate fellowship system shall be established, and the material conditions of teaching staff shall be continuously improved. This emphasis by the Covenant supports the assertion that education has the ability to empower PWDs in a way not realizable through affirmative action.

The Basic Education Act, 2013 is an Act of Parliament that was enacted to give effect to Article 53 of the Constitution and other enabling provisions; to promote and regulate free and compulsory basic education; to provide for accreditation, registration, governance and management of institutions of basic education; to provide for the establishment of the National Education Board, the Education Standards and Quality Assurance Commission, and the County Education Board and for connected purposes. This Act has important provisions that would be useful in realization of the right to access to education by PWDs. It is perhaps noteworthy that the Act under section 2 defines “basic education” to mean the educational programmes offered and imparted to a person in an institution of basic education and includes Adult basic education and education offered in pre-primary educational institutions and centers.

The Act also recognizes “special education needs” which it defines to mean conditions, physical, mental or intellectual conditions with substantial and long term adverse effects on the, learning ability (other than exposure) or the needs of those who learn differently or have disabilities that prevent or hinder or make it harder for them to access education or educational facilities of a kind generally provided for learners of the same age in the formal education system. Further, the Act provides that “special needs education” includes education for gifted or talented learners as well as learners with disability and includes education which provides appropriate curriculum differentiation in terms of content, pedagogy, instructional materials, alternative media of communication or duration to address the special needs of learners and to eliminate social, mental, intellectual, physical or environmental barriers to learners.

Section 4 is also important as it provides the guiding values and principles in the provision of basic education to include inter alia: the right of every child to free and compulsory basic education; equitable access for the youth to basic education and equal access to education or institutions; promotion of quality and relevance; encouraging independent and critical thinking; and cultivating skills, disciplines and capacities for reconstruction and development; promotion of peace,, integration, cohesion, tolerance, and inclusion as an objective in the provision of basic education; imparting relevant knowledge, skills, attitudes and values to learners to foster the spirit and sense of patriotism, nationhood, unity of purpose, togetherness, and respect; promotion of good governance, participation and inclusiveness of parents, communities, private sector and other stakeholders in the development and management of basic education; transparency and cost effective use of educational resources and sustainable implementation of educational services; promoting the respect for the right of the child’s opinion in matters that affect the child; promotion of innovativeness, inventiveness, creativity, technology transfer and an entrepreneurial culture; nondiscrimination, encouragement and protection of the marginalized, persons with disabilities and those with special needs; and provision of appropriate human resource, funds, equipment, infrastructure and related resources that meet the needs of every child in basic education.

As a reflection of the provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, section 28 of the Act obligates the Cabinet Secretary in liaison within other stakeholders to provide for the establishment of: pre-primary, primary and secondary schools, mobile schools, and adult and continuing education centers, within a reasonably accessible distance within a county; appropriate boarding primary schools in arid and semi-arid areas, hard-to-reach and vulnerable groups as appropriate; and academic centers, or relevant educational institutions to cater for gifted and talented learners; special and integrated schools for learners with disability. This should be actualized at the earliest.

Section 39 of the Act spells out the responsibility of the Government regarding basic education to include inter alia: providing free and compulsory basic education to every child; ensuring compulsory admission and attendance of children of compulsory school age at school or an institution offering basic education; ensuring that children belonging to marginalized, vulnerable or disadvantaged groups are not discriminated against and prevented from pursuing and completing basic education; providing human resource including adequate teaching and non-teaching staff according to the prescribed staffing norms; providing infrastructure including schools, learning and teaching equipment and appropriate financial resources; ensuring quality basic education conforming to the set standards and norms; providing special education and training facilities for talented and gifted pupils and pupils with disabilities; and ensuring compulsory admission, attendance and completion of basic education by every pupil; monitoring functioning of schools. Section 44 of the Act obligates the Government to establish and run special institutions for offering special needs education.

Going by the foregoing provisions on education provision to all and with special emphasis on the PWDs, the stage is set for the empowerment of PWDs through ensuring that they access education and acquire relevant skills that will enable them compete ably with everyone else when it comes to inclusion and/or participation in the governance of all sectors of the country’s economy. What remains is the political will to enforce the implementation of this right as provided for under the various legal instruments. There is need to include everyone in this campaign and role of ensuring that PWDs are not sidelined in accessing educational facilities and training. It has been noted that this is not a Kenyan problem only but actually in both developed and developing countries, in order to achieve more inclusive societies and employment opportunities for people with disabilities there is need for improved access to basic education, vocational training relevant to labour market needs and jobs suited to their skills, interests and abilities, with adaptations as needed.

Most of the disabled people in Kenya, as in most developing countries in the world, live in poverty, have limited opportunities for accessing education, health, suitable housing and employment opportunities. The emphasis around the world is generally on the PWDs’ ability to carry out the given task rather than the notion of entitlement. This is captured in the fact that any person or state organ is prohibited from denying a PWD an employment opportunity on the ground of disability if such a person is qualified for the job. The notion of entitlement may create the wrong impression that it will not matter whether the person is qualified or not but will get a favour on the ground that they are disabled. The reality is that unless PWDs are empowered with skills, training and/or formal education, any meaningful inclusion and participation in the development affairs will never be achieved. Participation and inclusion in the governance affairs across such areas as environment, politics, and others will require arming the PWDs with the relevant skills and expertise.

*This article is an extract from the Article Securing the Realization of Environmental and Social Rights for Persons with Disabilities in Kenya, (2018) Journal of Conflict Management and Sustainable Development Volume 2(1), p. 45.  by Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD, Kenya’s ADR Practitioner of the Year 2021 (Nairobi Legal Awards), ADR Publisher of the Year 2021 and ADR Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 (CIArb Kenya). Dr. Kariuki Muigua is a foremost Environmental Law and Natural Resources Lawyer and Scholar, Sustainable Development Advocate and Conflict Management Expert in Kenya. Dr. Kariuki Muigua is a Senior Lecturer of Environmental Law and Dispute resolution at the University of Nairobi School of Law and The Center for Advanced Studies in Environmental Law and Policy (CASELAP). He has published numerous books and articles on Environmental Law, Environmental Justice Conflict Management, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Sustainable Development. Dr. Muigua is also a Chartered Arbitrator, an Accredited Mediator, the Africa Trustee of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and the Managing Partner of Kariuki Muigua & Co. Advocates. Dr. Muigua is recognized among the top 5 leading lawyers and dispute resolution experts in Kenya by the Chambers Global Guide 2022.


Muigua, K., “Securing the Realization of Environmental and Social Rights for Persons with Disabilities in Kenya, (2018) Journal of Conflict Management and Sustainable Development Volume 2(1), p. 45.

News & Analysis

The Roles of the Three Parts of the Permanent Court of Arbitration




H.E. Amb. Marcin Czepelak, the Fourteenth Secretary-General of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)

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News & Analysis

Brief History of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)




By Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD, C.Arb, Current Member of Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) Representing the Republic of Kenya.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) is a 124 Years Old Intergovernmental Organization currently with 122 contracting states. It was established at the turn of 20th Century during the first Hague Peace Conference held between 18th May and 29th July 1899. The conference was an initiative of then Russian Czar Nicholas II to discuss peace and disarmament and specifically with the object of “seeking the most effective means of ensuring to all peoples the benefits of a real and lasting peace, and, above all, of limiting the progressive development of existing armaments.” The culmination of the conference was the adoption of a Convention on the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, which dealt not only with arbitration but also with other methods of pacific settlement, such as good offices and mediation.

The aim of the conference was to “strengthen systems of international dispute resolution” especially international arbitration which in the last century had proven effective for the purpose with number of successful international arbitrations being concluded among Nations. The Alabama arbitration of 1871-1872 between the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US) under the Treaty of Washington of 1871 culminating in the arbitral tribunal’s award that the UK pay the US compensation for breach of neutrality during American Civil War which it did had demonstrated the effectiveness of arbitration in settling of international disputes and piqued interest of many practitioners in it as a mode of dispute resolution during the latter years of the nineteenth century.

The Institut de Droit International adopted a code of procedure for arbitration in 1875 to answer the need for a general law of arbitration governing for countries and parties wishing to have recourse to international arbitration. The growth of arbitration as a mode of international dispute resolution formed the background of the 1899 conference and informed its most enduring achievement, namely, the establishment of the PCA as the first global mechanism for the settlement of disputes between states. Article 16 of the 1899 Convention recognized that “in questions of a legal nature, and especially in the interpretation or application of International Conventions” arbitration is the “most effective, and at the same time the most equitable, means of settling disputes which diplomacy has failed to settle.”

In turn, the 1899 Convention provided for the creation of permanent machinery to enable the setting up of arbitral tribunals as necessary and to facilitate their work under the auspices of the institution it named as the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA). In particular, Article 20 of the 1899 Convention stated that “[w]ith the object of facilitating an immediate recourse to arbitration for international differences which it has not been possible to settle by diplomacy, the signatory Powers undertake to organize a Permanent Court of Arbitration, accessible at all times and operating, unless otherwise stipulated by the parties, in accordance with the rules of procedure inserted in the present Convention.” In effect, the Convention set up a permanent system of international arbitration and institutionalized the law and practice of arbitration in a definite and acceptable way.

As a result, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) was established in 1900 and began operating in 1902. The PCA as established consisted of a panel of jurists designated by each country acceding to the Convention with each country being entitled to designate up to four from among whom the members of each arbitral tribunal might be chosen. In addition, the Convention created a permanent Bureau, located in The Hague, with functions similar to those of a court registry or secretariat. The 1899 Convention also laid down a set of rules of procedure to govern the conduct of arbitrations under the PCA framework.

The second Hague Peace Conference in 1907 saw a revision of the 1899 Convention and improvement of the rules governing arbitral proceedings. Today, the PCA has developed into a modern, multi-faceted arbitral institution perfectly situated to meet the evolving dispute resolution needs of the international community. The Permanent Court of Arbitration has also diversified its service offering alongside those contemplated by the Conventions. For instance, today the International Bureau of the Permanent Court of Arbitration serves as a registry in important international arbitrations. In 1993, the Permanent Court of Arbitration adopted new “Optional Rules for Arbitrating Disputes between Two Parties of Which Only One Is a State” and, in 2001, “Optional Rules for Arbitration of Disputes Relating to Natural Resources and/or the Environment”.


PCA Website: (accessed on 25th May 2023).

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News & Analysis

Former KCB Company Secretary Sues Over Unlawful Dismissal




Former KCB Group Company Secretary Joseph Kamau Kania who has sued the Bank for Unlawful Dismissal

Former KCB Group Company Secretary Joseph Kamau Kania has sued the lender seeking reinstatement or be compensated for illegal sacking almost three years ago. Lawyer Kania was the KCB Group company secretary until restructuring of the lender in 2021 that saw some senior executives dropped.

Through the firm of Senior Counsel Wilfred Nderitu, Kamau wants the court to order KCB Group to unconditionally reinstate him to employment without altering any of the contractual terms until his retirement in December 2025.

In his court documents filed before Employment and Labour Relations Court, the career law banker seeks the court to declare the reorganization of the company structure a nullity and amounted to a violation of his fundamental right to fair labour practices as guaranteed in Article 41(1) of the Constitution. He further wants the court to declare that the position of Group Company Secretary did not at any time cease to exist within the KCB Group structure.

He further urged the Employment Court to declare that the recruitment and appointment of Bonnie Okumu, his former assistant, as the Group Company Secretary, in relation to the contemporaneous termination of his employment, was unprocedural, insufficient and inappropriate to infer a lawful termination of his employment.

“A declaration that the factual and legal circumstances of the Petitioner’s termination of employment were insufficient and inappropriate to infer a redundancy against him, and that any redundancy declared by the KCB Group in relation to him was therefore null, void and of no legal effect and amounted to a violation of his fundamental right to fair labour practices as guaranteed in Article 41(1) of the Constitution,” seeks lawyer Kamau.

Kamau says he was subjected to discriminatory practices by the KCB Bank Group in violation of his fundamental right to equality and freedom from discrimination as guaranteed in Article 27 of the Constitution and the termination of his employment was unfair, unjustified, illegal, null and void.

Lawyer Kamau further seeks the court to declare that the Non-Compete Clause in the 2016 Contract is unenforceable by the KCB Group as against him and is voidable by him as against the Bank ab initio, byreason of the termination of the Petitioner’s employment having been a violation of Articles 41(1) and 47(1) and (2) of the Constitution, and of the Employment Act.

He also wants the Employment Court to find that finding that KCB’s group legal representation by Messrs of Mohammed Muigai LLP Advocates law firm in respect of his claim for unlawful termination of employment resulted in a clear conflict of interest by reason of the fact that a Founding and Senior Partner at the said firm lawyer Mohammed Nyaoga is also the Chairman of the CBK’s Board of Directors.

“A Declaration that the circumstances of KCB’s legal representation by Messrs. Mohammed Muigai LLP Advocates resulted in a violation of the Petitioner’s fundamental right to have the employment dispute decided independently and impartially, as guaranteed in Article 50(1) of the Constitution,” seeks lawyer Kamau.

Kamau is seeking damages against both KCB Group and Central Bank of Kenya jointly and severally for the violation of his constitutional and fundamental right to fair labour practices.

He wants  further wants court to declare that CBK is liable to petitioner on account of its breach of statutory duty to effectively regulate KCB Group to ensure that KCB complied with the Central Bank of Kenya Prudential Guidelines and all other Laws, Rules, Codes and Standards, and that, as an issuer of securities, it complied with capital markets legislation.

Kamau through his lawyer Nderitu told the court that he was involved in Shareholder engagement in introducing the Group aide-mémoire that significantly improved the management of the Annual General Meetings, including obtaining approval without voting through the Memorandum and Articles of Association of Kenya Commercial Bank Limited among others.

He said that during his employment at KCB Bank Kenya and with the KCB Group, he initially worked well with former KCB CEO Joseph Oigara until 2016 when the CEO allegedly started sidelining him by removing the legal function from his reporting line.

He further claims he was transferred from the Group’s offices at Kencom House to its offices Upper Hill under the guise that the Petitioner was merely to support the KCB Group Board.

He adds that at that point his roles were given to Okumu for reasons that were not related to work demands.  He stated that Oigara at one time proposed that he should leave his role in the KCB Group and go and serve as the Company Secretary of the National Bank of Kenya Limited, a subsidiary of the Group, a suggestion which he disagreed with to Oigara’s utter annoyance.

Kamau stated that his work was thenceforth unfairly discredited, leading to his being taken through a disciplinary process whose intended outcome failed miserably, and the Petitioner was vindicated.

“More specifically, the Petitioner contends that the purported creation of a new organizational structure towards the end of 2020 was in fact Oigara’s orchestration targeted to remove certain individuals by requiring them to undergo interviews in the pretext that new roles were created, and amounted to a further violation of the Petitioner’s fundamental right to fair labour practices under Article 41(1) of the Constitution,” said in his court documents.

He further adds that this sham reorganization demonstrates how the role of the KCB Group Company Secretary purportedly ceased to be and was then very briefly replaced with a new role of the KCB Group General Counsel. The role of KCB Group Company Secretary then ‘resurfaced’ immediately thereafter, in total violation of legal and regulatory requirements.

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