History of the Department 
Kenyatta University was the first public university in East Africa to offer a B.ED degree in special education. Special Needs Education was first established as a special education unit within the department of Educational Psychology in 1995. The unit started with 33 undergraduate students specializing in the areas of education of learners with visual impairments, hearing impairments and those with physical disabilities. Due to the increasing awareness and demand for the special education degree course and the need for qualified special educators, three more areas of specialization were initiated in 1996. Other areas have been added gradually.

Since then the B.Ed Curriculum has been revised three times in order to accommodate other types of disabilities and to be in line with changes and dynamism the society.

Kenyatta university recognizes the importance of Special Needs Education as a vital aspect of accelerating the attainment of Education for All (EFA) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The sessional paper NO.1 of 2005 on “policy Framework for Education, Training and Research” states clearly the vision of the education sector. This vision can only be realized through the provision of an inclusive quality education which is accessible and relevant to all individuals including those with disabilities. Such an education will contribute significantly towards enhancing provision of employment opportunities and self-reliance to individuals and learners with special needs. Successful implementation of this policy framework is expected to improve the quality of education provided to individuals with SNE.

The department of Special Needs Education envisages to become a centre of excellence in training, research, professionalism and community service in the area of Special Needs Education (SNE).

To provide quality Special Needs Education, conduct research and consultancy, offer community service and create awareness towards inclusion of persons with special needs in the society and link with similar institutions.


  • To offer market driven courses and programmes in special needs education.
  • To increase training opportunities for teachers in special needs education.
  • To develop efficient, effective and creative personnel for inclusive education.
  • To produce highly qualified special educators.
  • To engage in research and create awareness on the rights and needs of learners with special needs.
  • To provide leadership in SNE and advocacy for quality services for persons with Special Needs.

(1) Internal

  • The Department of SNE is open to collaborations through the Centre of International Programmes and Collaboration. So far we are collaborating with Stadi Za Maisha – an Education Trust dealing children and youth who are gifted and talented.
  • Getrudes' Childrens Hospital, Nairobi- SLP Internship
  • Kenyatta National Hospital, KNH-SLP Internship

(2) External

The department partners with

  • Leibniz University, Hannover, Germany
  • University of Mt. St. Vincent in Canada (student/staff exchange program)
  • Georgia Institute of Technology (research)
  • University of Rwanda (students exchange). 

Department of Special Needs Education Graduated Students since the programme started in 1995.

International Students in the Department
The Department has attracted several students from other countries through the Directorate of International and Linkages Programmes. These include:

    • Japan (Summer program)
    • St. Vincent Canada (Summer Program)
    • Uganda (fulltime/Schoolbased)
    • Rwanda – (fulltime/School Based)
    • DRC – Congo (fulltime)
    • Somalia – (fulltime)
    • Tanzania – (fulltime)
    • Ghana – (fulltime)
    • Nigeria – (fulltime)

We have inquiries from Zambia and Malawi.

Two students have benefited from the scholarship at the University i.e

    • Jane Gitonga who graduated with a Master of Education degree in June 2013.
    • Marylyne Awuor - E55/20125/2010 who is pursuing her Master of Education degree in Special Needs Education

The department offers the following programs:

PhD in Special Needs Education

The program is offered in the following four modes of study:

  • Full Time/regular mode. 
  • Institutional Based Program (IBP)
  • Open Distance and e Learning (ODeL)
  • Part-time

The duration of the Doctor of Philosophy degree program is three years.

Master of Education in Special Needs Education

The program is offered in two modes: full-time and institutional based (IBP).  There are two options of study:

Thesis option: Students taking thesis option is required to take 10 units; 6 common (2 common units from the school and 4 common units from the department) and 4 in selected area of specialization i.e physical and multiple disabilities, other health impairment, gifted and talented, emotional and behavioural disorders, learning disabilities, mental retardation,  hearing impairment, visual impairment and autism.

Project Option: Students taking project option is required to take 14 units; 10 common and 4 in a selected area of specialization as indicated above.

Masters in Speech and Language Pathology

This is a three (3) years program offered in three modes: full-time, institutional based (IBP) and part-time. 

 Students are required to take 18 units which are compulsory and a masters thesis. In addition there is one year full-time clinical internship.

Bachelor of Education in Special Needs Education

This is a four years program offered in three modes: full-time, institutional based (IBP) and Digital School of Virtual and Open Learning (DSVOL).  The student is required to take fifty six (56) units: three (3) University common units, sixteen (16) education units, fifteen (11) units in special needs education, sixteen (16) units in a major teaching subject, nine (8) units in another teaching subject (minor) and finally 2 units TP.

Diploma in Special Needs Education

This is a two years program offered in two modes: full-time and institutional based (IBP)

The programme consists of 27 units to be offered in four (4) sessions.  Students are also required to go for Teaching Practice which is equivalent to 2 units.  

Undergraduate Programme


Certificate in Early Childhood Education
Diploma Early Child Care and Education 340 students 
B.Ed. Early Childhood Education 375 students



M.Ed. Students in Early Childhood Studies 26 
Ph.D. in Early Childhood Studies 10

Research Activities

Postgraduate Students conduct research in diverse areas centering on Child Development and Early Childhood Education.

Staff consultancies are ongoing with Ministries, NGOs and various other institutions.

Student Destinations

Our student upon completion get to serve in Non Government Organizations, International Organization, various Ministries, Local government organs, Universities and private organisations.






E158 Certificate (ECE)




E202 Diploma(ECE)




E40 B.ED (ECE)




E55 M.ED (ECE)









The department established a Journal of Special Needs and Disabilities Studies in 2013 and so far two volumes have been published.

6th East African Conference on Communication Disability

Theme of the conference is; Communication Disabilities in East Africa: Development, Assessment, Treatment and Inclusion.

>>Click here to find out more

Revising the B.Ed, M.Ed programs, and initiating the development of three new programs namely: M.Ed in speech and language pathology, PhD in Special Needs Education and Postgraduate Diploma in Psycho-Educational assessment. 

The Department has initiated five collaborations (one local and four international) for Kenyatta University. Four of these collaborations are active and two of them have initiated a baseline study at pilot levels.

    • PAGEL project 
    • Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, USA – Research and assistive technology in the area of Visual Impairment.
    • The University of Louisiana At Lafayette (UL Lafayette) Louisiana, USA - Research and assessment of students who are gifted and talented. (Have already done the pilot study with 45 students online).
    • Stadi Za Maisha Educational Trust (SZ MET) – Assessment of children and youth who are gifted and talented.
    • CLASP International (CLASP), Dallas, Texas – Curriculum in Speech and Language Pathology – A Masters course for Kenyatta University students taking courses within the department.
    • The University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, USA – Curriculum in Applied Behaviour Analysis – A Masters course for students taking Special Needs Education at the Department.
    • Assessing children for Stadi za Maisha under MoU between Kenyatta University, Ministry of Education and Stadi za Maisha.

Through these collaborations we have had students from Tokyo and Canada on exchange programs through Directorate Centre for Linkages and International Programmes.