A Non Governmental Organization, Disability Rights Advocacy Center (DRAC) has solicited the collaboration of the Benue State Ministry of Education to adopt the National Policy on Inclusive Education in the State.
The Executive Director, DRAC, Dr. Irene Patrick-Ogbogu, made the request Wednesday when she led other members of the organization on an advocacy visit to the Honourable Commissioner, ministry of education, Dr. Saawuaan Tarnongo in his office in Makurdi, the state capital.
David Torough reports that Dr. Patrick-Ogbogu who was represented by State Program Coordinator, Rachel Dzever also appealed for the modification of the existing schools to be inclusive of Children with Disabilities, CWD, influence and promote policies and practices that ensure all CWD have access to Inclusive schools, promote and protect their rights through development and review of policies, advocacy coordination with stakeholders, building capacity and effective monitoring and evaluation in order to enhance education for all, ensure every school has trained personnel to cater for CWD and special facilities for the effective education for them, provide braille, sign language interpreters and other skills for communicating with the CWD and make provision for inclusive curriculum as well as syllabus for all especially CWDs.
According to her, the aim of the organization was Promoting Access to Inclusive Education for Children with Disabilities while revealing that the World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that globally, about one billion people live with one form of disability or the other, with about 75% living in developing countries.
She further disclosed that in Nigeria alone, the 2018 WHO estimates put the number of PWDs at 29 million while Global statistics revealed that 93 million children live with a disability worldwide.
Dr. Patrick-Ogbogu said Children with disabilities are one of the most marginalized and excluded groups in society, facing daily discrimination in the form of negative attitudes, lack of adequate policies and legislation which they are effectively barred from realizing their rights to education and even survival.
She said that denying children with disabilities their right to education has a lifelong impact on learning, achievement and employment opportunities, hence hindering their potentials to economic, social and human development which in many situations, children with disabilities of school age have suffered temporary school dropout with the risk of such been permanent in most cases.
Dr. Patrick-Ogbogu emphasized that the quest to improve quality of human life starts with providing impactful qualitative and accessible education for all without hindrances or barriers.
The Executive Director explained that Children with disabilities have been the major victims of collective neglect and denials in terms of access to formal education globally, a reason he called on all hands to be on deck to acknowledge the increased efforts to improve education opportunities for all even as the gap between children with and without disabilities keeps growing.
She added that DRAC is committed to strong and lasting collaborations with a wide range of state and non-state actors in Benue State and will continue to advocate at international, national, and state levels for policies and actions, which support inclusive education of persons with disabilities as well as continue to raise awareness on the education needs of PWDs, especially children in Nigeria with a view to ensuring their access to inclusive education.
Responding, Commissioner for education, Dr. Saawuaan Tarnongo who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mrs Margaret Ikpe said that the Ministry will continue to work tirelessly to ensure all children with disabilities have access to education at all levels.
The Permanent Secretary assured the team of the Ministry’s willingness to support inclusive education in Benue State while stating that the Ministry is currently working to improve the Special Education schools available in the State.