Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) presentation of report on the findings of an Assessment Study on the Implementation of Inclusive Education Policy among stakeholders (education planners, school principals, teachers, parents and students) in Abia State
CCD made the call Thursday in Umuahia during the presentation of its report on the findings of an Assessment Study on the Implementation of Inclusive Education Policy among stakeholders (education planners, school principals, teachers, parents and students) in Abia State.
As part of efforts to meet the needs of PWDs in Nigeria, the federal government developed a national framework that addresses inclusive education issues which include the PWDS and non-disabled people learning in the same environment.
However, the mechanisms for proper implementation of the inclusive education policy were still missing in many states of the federation, including Abia.
This made CCD to commission the research in six selected local governments across the three senatorial districts between November and December last year to evaluate progress, identify challenges and point the way towards implementing a more inclusive educational system in Abia.
Welcoming guests, including top personnel from the Ministries of Education, Youths Development, the State Planning Commission, Secondary Education Management Board (SEMB) and PWDs associations, and aides of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu who graced the event, Executive Director of CCD, Mr David Anyaele, said the group was committed to supporting Abia in ensuring that no disabled child was left behind in terms of education.
Presenting the research findings, the Research and Senior Programme Officer of CCD, Victor Owoyomi, said it was discovered that a plethora of challenges impeding the implementation of Inclusive Education Policy in Abia include absence of legal framework to protect children with disabilities from discriminatory and other harmful practices; insufficient specially trained teachers; discrimination and stigmatization against children, learners with disabilities by teachers, planners, parents and even students without disabilities and poor parental knowledge, attitude and lack of social acceptance for Inclusive Education Policy, which is why many parents shy away from enrolling their children/wards with disabilities in school to attain basic primary education.
According to the report, inadequate and poorly equipped resource rooms for PWD learners in the same environment as learners without disabilities; inadequate supply and availability of Inclusive Education facilities and infrastructure such as inaccessible classrooms, learning aides like brialle key boards for Personal Computers, typewriters, computers and audio-visual devices, recorders, assistive devices, logistics for mobility – school bus, white cane, wheel chairs, among others; as well as bureaucracy and corruption within the state public educational system which results theft of materials supplied before they got to the assigned schools and selling them in the markets, were other factors affecting the implementation of the Inclusive Education policy in Abia.
The report further listed other factors as lack of interest in disability affairs among citizens and state policy actors and poor teachers’ welfare such as delays in payment of salaries and remunerations and lack of competence in disability affairs.
In its recommendation, CCD urged the Abia State House of Assembly to, as a matter of urgency, pass the State Disability Rights Bill in order to fast track stakeholders’ action plans in implementing Inclusive Education Policy for PWDs in the state.
It also advised the state legislature to scale up its oversight functions and budgetary allocations to all ministries, agencies and departments to make Inclusive Education accessible and affordable for learners with disabilities and appealed to the leadership of the House of Assembly to inaugurate a Standing Committee to champion Inclusive Education rights for learners with disabilities in the state.
It called for training of all teachers on how to work in the resource room across the 17 local government areas of the state so that they can competently respond to the academic and psychosocial needs of persons/learners with disabilities and urged Abia State Universal Basic Education Board (ASUBEB), through the State Ministry of Education to take adequate steps to ensure access to federal government grants on Special Education to scale up operationalization of Inclusive Education in the state.
CCD further recommended that the Ministry of Education should encourage PWDs with special awards, scholarships, logistics assistance for mobility (buses, tricycles, wheel chairs, etc.) and job placements, while appealing to non-governmental organizations and the media to roll out an aggressive awareness campaigns, using all channels of communication and all community sectoral leaderships to sensitize and promote learners with disability right to inclusive education among all stakeholders.
In her goodwill message, the Wife of the Governor, Mrs Nkechi Ikpeazu, represented by her Chief Press Secretary, Chief Chika Ojiegbe, said she was engaging with the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Chinedum Orji, for quick passage of the Disability Rights Bill into law to end discriminations against PWDs in the state.