By Iduozee Paul, Benin
Officials at the Stakeholder Event
A university don, from the Department of Special Education, University of Ibadan, Prof. Julius Abiola Ademokoya, has urged the Edo State government to provide adequate funding in budgets for special education and execution of inclusion programme.
Prof. Ademokoya Abiola made the request at the first quarterly stakeholders’ roundtable event on “Inclusive Special Education” in Benin City, Edo State.
He said inclusive education is an educational system or programme which includes or place both non- disabled (average) and disabled (special education needs) learners together in same classrooms of neighborhood schools explaining that the federal government has adopted the system.
“The federal government through the National Policy on Education has not only approved inclusionas the best placement option for the education of special needs learners, it also intends to employ inclusion to give concrete meaning to the idea of educating educational disabilities,” he stated.
Speaking on the goals of inclusion, Prof. Ademokoya listed priorities as humanity over disability, demonstrating true democracy and egalitarianism- equal rights, empowerment for economic development of persons, states, nations and the world at large.
On the factors for successful inclusion, Ademokoya, listed understanding, acceptance and tolerance and listed the categories of persons with disabilities in critical need of inclusion, especially among children and adults as visual impairments like deafness and hard of hearing; hearing impairments like blindness and low vision; mental retardation like mild/moderate and severe cases, and physical impairments like amputation and paralysis, etc.
Prof Ademokoya highlighted the ground works for sustainable and inclusion education to include personal preparations, legal groundwork and financial necessities.
He stressed that to make the programme sustainable, government must create a strong legal backing, subject the programme to regular monitoring and evaluation and on take necessary adaptations, as at when due.
The Edo State government speaking through the Head of Service, HOS, Anthony Osas Okungbowa, represented by the director of Investment and Revenue, Ministry of Finance, Mrs. Emofonmwan Akhere, said inclusive education means that, all children, no matter who they are, can learn together in the same school.
“The primary aim of inclusive education is to educate students who have disabilities in the regular classrooms, and still meet their individual needs. It allows children with special needs to receive a free and appropriate education along with general education students in the classroom.
“It entails reaching out to all learners, and removing all barriers that could limit participation and achievement. This can in turn foster societies that are more inclusive,” Edo government said.
In his address, the executive director, Network for the Advancement of People with Visible Disabilities (NAPVID), Melody Omosah, said about 30 million persons (representing 15 per cent of the Nigerian population) possess one form of disability or the other.
Omosah said:”In Nigeria, about 30 million persons (representing 15per cent) of the total population possesses one form of disability or the other. Like other citizens, persons with disabilities want to go to school, interact and earn a living to contribute to the growth of our communities.
Sadly, a lot of these dreams are short lived by numerous challenges, like accessibility and inclusion”.
According to him, those with disability grapple with two times more challenges than the able, adding that a large segment of them have little or no access to education.
“For many of us with disabilities, we struggle twice as much or more to attain some heights. Today, in low and middle-income countries like Nigeria, an estimated 65 million primary and secondary school age children have disabilities. And about 80 per cent of them are out of school.
“The exclusion of children with disabilities from education has an adverse economic impact on the family, community and country level,” he pointed out.