Voice of Disability Initiative on Monday 16th November, 2020 organized a One Day focused group discussion on concept of inclusive education.

The project supported by Disability Rights Fund is aimed at having the audience gain comprehensive understanding of inclusive education as it relates to different disability categories and commit to championing advocacy for effective implementation in FCT and Nigeria as a whole, with a view of eliminating misconceptions around the practice; and gaining more diverse to support the movement.

The Executive Director, Voice of Disability Initiative (VDI), Barrister Catherine Edeh, in her speech urged the Federal Government to include sign language in teachers training manual and also in the school curriculum and syllabuses in order to mainstream the deaf in the schools.

Speaking further, she expressed dismay the way and manner government have allowed the special schools for persons with disabilities to be degenerated to the level of losing the essence of establishing them. She frowned at government for not being fair to persons with disabilities by always situating special schools in remote areas which makes it difficult for persons with disabilities to access them.

She advocated for government to develop the will of implementing the National Inclusive Education Policy 2015 which was designed to mainstream persons with disabilities in primary and secondary schools. Government should as matter of urgency ensure that government owned schools start implementing National Inclusive Education Policy because the policy was established in 2015 and since nothing much has been done. It is important now because of the principle of “leave no one behind”.

She also said that the focused group is geared towards discussing the future of inclusive education in Nigeria while making schools accessible to persons with disabilities.

She also spoke about catching them young because there would be big challenge to build them up when they are gone beyond foundational stage. Whatever that is good for children without disabilities is also good for children with disabilities. The proximity of the schools should be highly considered; you should not situate schools where they cannot access. For example, a child with disability cannot be living in Masaka and have to be sending to a school in Gwagwalada. This has led to a great percentage of children with disabilities are out of school.

“Deaf children will not have much problems of coping well if we have quality teachers who are good in sign language employed in many schools within our environment”, she reasoned.

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 sensitize 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.

The workshop was participatory and was rich with seasoned discussants such as Madam Ekaete Umoh(JONAPWD President), Barr. Yusuf Iyodo (Director, Media and Publicity, ALDIN), Madam Lola Aneke.

Ekaete spoke on the past present and future of inclusive education in Nigeria a factual approach

Mrs. Lola Aneke talked on achieving effectiveness in the quest for inclusive education in Nigeria A way forward

While Barr. Yusuf talked on policy framework and legal perspectives of education for all: legal implication of the educational system in Nigeria

Other notable dignitaries at the event were Barrister Hauwa Shekarau(Chairperson,THE Nigerian Bar Association FCT Chapter) , Sr Florence Emmanuel(Program Officer at Daughter of Charity, Mr. Lawrence Idemudia from Centre for Deaf Inclusion, the facilitator Barrister Ese among other very vibrant participants.

VDI designed the project to galvanize support and raise awareness on the implementation of the National policy on inclusive education and other relevant disability laws in Nigeria.

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