Okwe Obi, Abuja
An NGO, Voice of Disability Initiative (VDI), has appealed to the Federal Government to include sign language as part of the requirements for teachers, and that it should be included in educational curriculum and syllabus, in order to give people with disability, particularly the deaf, a sense of belonging.
VDI Executive Director, Barrister Catherine Edeh, who stated this during a one-day focused group discussion concept of inclusive education, yesterday, in Abuja, lamented the deplorable condition of special schools for people with disability.
Edeh accused the government of not being kind to people with disability by situating special schools in remote areas making it difficult for children with special needs to attend daily.
She urged the government to show sympathy by implementing the 2015 inclusive education policy which partly prohibits discrimination against people with disability.
‘We are here as a focused group to discuss the future of inclusive education in Nigeria and making our schools accessible to children and learners with disability without discrimination.
‘We want public schools for a start because our government own the responsibility to make sure that no one is left behind. We have an inclusive education policy in Nigeria since 2015.
‘But implementation is what we do not hear about. How schools do not implement them. We have continued to look at a segregated system of education for people with disability where special schools build for the deaf and blind in remote places that are very far making it difficult for a young baby to have access at a very tender age.
‘And if we d not catch them young at the age we are supposed to, we would be faced with a big challenge to build them up later because the foundational stage is the best to catch them. We put everything in place for non disable children to make sure that they are comfortable, but what about children with disability?
‘Is education not applicable to them? Are our institutions accessible for children with disability? You cannot leave in a place like Masaka and be sending your child with disability to Gwagwalada every day. It does not make sense.
‘We do not have consideration for children with disability and that is why a high percentage of children with disability are out of school. This project is designed to raise voices for the implementation of the inclusive education policy and other laws in Nigeria.
‘There is a need to revisit our curriculum and syllabus. Let sign language be a compulsory course in our institution; that way we will have a higher percentage of people with sign language experience mostly teachers.
‘We will have quality teachers who are good in sign language employed in many schools within our environment. Deaf children will not have much problems coping well with those schools,’ she said.
Meanwhile, the Director, Communication and ICT, Women Advocacy and Development Initiative (WEAD), Mute Olori, said parents should be equipped with knowledge in understanding and caring for children.
“Government should sensitise parents and children with special needs on the need not to give up. And the need for the society to accept them wholeheartedly if not we will continue to see them as a menace and political tools,’ she said.