Recently, Nigeria has changed her Policy of educating and training disabled person from exclusive treatment to Inclusive setting through the Education Reforms of the Mrs Oby Ezekwesili who has been now appointed the Vice Chairman of the World Bank.
Friends of the dISABLED HAS BEEN ADVOCATING FOR INCLUSIVE EDUCATION since 2005 through National media, personal approach, lobbing, seminars and Workshops.By 2006, we wrote to the Hon. Minister, with imput from the parents of hearing and Speech impaired students in our Centre, asking that her planned reforms in Education should carry along the disabled people's education. WE ASKED AND RECOMMENDED THAT CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES GO TO THE SAME SCHOOL, private or public, inorder to manage and finally eradicate discrimination which has been the major problem facing people with disabilities. The reponse was positive and Iwas invited as a Stakeholder to serve in Equity Team to sell and push my new idea. This I did along side with people who advocate for a change.At the end, other Stakeholders and Policy Makers saw the need to bring childern together from the primary to the secondary levels as their Human Rights and to get their peers get used to them from the beginning inorder to provide for their needs later.
In Nigeria now there is A Ten - Year Plan/ Education reforms which has as its policy, the training of both the disabled and the non- disabled providing each child what he/she needs to learn effectively.There is the understanding that disability is a difference and those who have, should be provided with what they need to belong eg. Braille machines will be provided for those with visual impairement, Sign Language teachers be provided for those with hearing and speech impairment while ramps are built for those on wheel chairs. Cases that are beyond management in inclusive setting should still be treated in exclusion with the techniques to bring them together as much as possible.
We have achived a Policy Change through our Advocacy. We are now faced with the challanges of implementation. A policy can be made but if not implemented is as bad as the originalsituation.
If implemented, discrimination will phase off or at least be minimised; every child in school both primary and secondary will gradually and with time learn sign language and this in turn will phase off the hearing and sppech impairment as every body would be able to communicate with those who have it. Both disabled and the non-disabled would work in the same office without isolation.
More reports on this will come with time.
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Isale Eko, Lagos Island