By Henry Uche, Lagos
A coalition of Children’s Development Centre (CDC) – Irede Foundation and Festus Fajemilo Foundation – has condemned ‘the stigma, prejudice and segregation against People With Disabilities (PWD) across Nigeria, particularly in Lagos, saying that disability of any kind is not a death sentence.
Speaking at the end of its one-year Programme themed “United For Inclusive Education (UIE) Project”, CDC Service Director Dr Olanyinka, Akindayomi said the stigma and segregation are becoming unbecoming and aggravates the plight of PWD.
Akindayomi implored the Lagos State Ministry of Education to begin to screen every school child (primary and post-primary) to identify children that could have any form of disability (unknowingly to parents and guardians) for proper management.
‘We must stop the stigma, prejudice and segregation against these fellow citizens. These children can do something meaningful to the country. Parents with such children should not abandon them nor do away with them.
‘There should be more collaboration to build up the capacity of teachers at Inclusive Education Units. We want the Lagos government to enforce the Disability Act which mandates individual and corporate bodies to incorporate People With Disabilities in their scheme of things. Sadly, most organisations have not put the needed infrastructure in place to accommodate these fellow citizens. How many banks have access doors for people in wheelchairs? Do we have cheque, withdrawal and deposit booklets in Braille? It all shows that Persons With Disabilities are still seriously treated as pariahs,’ she decried.
Also speaking, the Director, Child Guidance, school Counselling and Special education, Lagos State Ministry of Education, Anthonia Olusola Somoye, said the Lagos State Government would continue to take care of PWD as promised.
Somoye beckoned on parents to help the government to bring the best out of PWD. “Parents should help us to bring the best from these special persons. It’s not their making to be in this form. As for us, we shall not cease to meet their immediate needs as we have often done,’ she affirmed.
On her part, Assistant Director, School Support Services Department, Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board (LSUBEB) Mrs Twins Hilda, averred that the Lagos State government would not leave any stone unturned to carry every child along in line with the Universal Design Learning Program as the medium in developing an effective Inclusive system.
Hilda urged teachers in the Inclusive Unit to maximise the skills impacted in them to bring out the best from every child with a disability. “We have impacted the requisite skills and methodologies (Universal Design Learning) to teachers in the Inclusive Education Unit including how to design unique toolbox based on the peculiarity of Children in their respective Inclusive Units.
‘LASUBEB’s slogan is ‘Leave No Child Behind’ and we shall provide more instructional materials to our 31 Inclusive Units, daily meal and other basis needs to every child in this category,’ she assured.
On her part, the Head of Operations for CDC, Ebele Oputa, posited that the consequences of despising people with disabilities would always be devastating, stressing that such people have emotions and can display displeasure whenever they feel unloved.
Oputa added that though these special citizens may be confined in a particular environment, howbeit, their activities within their domains most definitely affect every other person in the society, directly or otherwise.
‘We should not leave these special persons lovelorn, they deserve every humane treatment, ignoring them is a sin against humanity and divinity. We must know that our happiness on earth is to an extent a function of other people’s state of mind. Do let us choose to love not only seemingly normal persons but every other human being no matter the condition of the persons,’ she admonished.