Voice of Disability Initiative, VDI in partnership with Disability Rights Funds (DRF) marked the International Day of Persons With Disabilities (IDPWDs) in an eventful workshop organized on Friday 4th, December at Laps New World Hotel, Jabi Abuja.

The organization had earlier at the same venue, hosted a press conference aimed at promoting inclusion in education and making education accessible to all learners with disabilities in FCT.

VDI, an organization with ‘inclusion’ as its mantra began another scintillating one-day workshop themed “Effective Inclusive Education Practices” soon after the IDPWD advocacy program.

In a speech presented by the Executive Director, Edeh Catherine Chinyere, during the press conference, she said, “By inclusive education, we are talking about all students attending, and are welcome by their neighbourhood schools in age-appropriate, regular classes, and are supported to learn, contribute and participate in all aspect of the life of the school.”

Stressing on inclusion she stated “Inclusive education is all about ensuring access to quality education for all students by effectively meeting their diverse needs in a way that is responsive, accepting, respectful, and supportive.”

At the eventful program, powerful “inclusion speeches” were presented by vibrant stakeholders and volunteers with different questions raised and answered accordingly.

During the Press Briefing, Barr Catherine stressed that in the Federal Capital Territory, like in many other parts of the country, implementation of inclusive education has met with many challenges. There has not been much advocacy as expected in the area. Awareness raising is low, therefore people do not clearly understand the essential importance of inclusive education to development.

She further went on that “In FCT, most schools, both public and private institutions are not inclusive and do not accommodate learners with disabilities. The general perspective being that there are segregated special schools that are designated for learners with disabilities and is the best system of educating learners with disabilities.

“This is where we get it all wrong. How can a parent with a bright deaf child with who live at Masaka for instance send his/her two, four or five year old deaf child to a school for the deaf at Lafia or Kuje daily as a day student, noting that a child of such age range cannot cope as a boarding pupil? No responsible parent will love to send a child of below 7 year old to boarding school. But because of proximity issues with special schools and the way they are always cited at remote places and are scarce, this is the situation we have on ground in FCT and in fact, all parts of Nigeria.

“Concerned about this, the FCT administration at a point, made considerable effort to incorporate inclusive education at the primary and secondary level. The Government Secondary School Dutse and one other school were selected and used to run-test the domestication and actualization of inclusive education in FCT. To this end, few students with disabilities, one of which is here with us have graduated from the schools. But the process has not gotten the needed support to make its effectiveness more visible in FCT. This project therefore calls for attention and efforts in the area. The FCT administration should as a matter of fact, intensify efforts to ensure schools in FCT are inclusive and accessible to learners with disabilities within their environments”.

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