Education is the bedrock of development of any nation, therefore to address the menace of out of school children and provide education for children living with disabilities, there is need for effective synergy between stakeholders and government at all levels to support Mainstreaming of Inclusion so all can learn equally.
To this end, the Sightsavers embarked on a pilot project in eight schools in Jema’a Local Government Area of Kaduna state through sensitization, training and creating a conducive environment for pupils with Disabilities to join their counterparts to learn and socialize.
At a meeting to Support Mainstreaming Inclusion so all can Learn Equally also known as SMiLE in Abuja, the Executive Secretary, National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, Mr. James Lalu called for more collaboration to ensure the nation works in-line with article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to Fastrack inclusive education to enable them be at par with their counterparts globally.
Represented by the Head, Development Programs and Planning Unit, Mrs. Nike Akinbola, Mr. Lalu said no meaningful development can be achieved if most children of school age are out of school, with children with disabilities constituting 50% of the 10.5m out of school children in Nigeria.
On his part, the country Director, Sightsavers Nigeria and Ghana, Dr. Sunday Isiyaku said the SMiLE project provided technical support to enhance an inclusive education system for children with disabilities to ensure Nigerian children were not left behind in accessing quality education.
Dr Isiyaku who also stressed the need to strengthen the system by implementing policies that would encourage children with disabilities to have inclusive education harped on training for teachers on inclusive education to enable them impact on the students.
He added that the SMiLE project which is a pilot programme implemented in 8 schools in Jema’a Local Government of Kaduna State was borne out of curiosity to address the educational crisis, with a high number of out of school children, particularly in the northern states.
According to Dr. Isiyaku “Today, we will not only hear about the remarkable transformation that was seen during the implementation of the project. But it would be a great opportunity for us to reflect on what we as stakeholders can do to ensure that we sustain the gains of this project. The main objective of the project was to provide children with disabilities hope through inclusion, to demonstrate that every child regardless of who they are, could access quality education, especially at the local government level and that their vision has turned into reality, in the schools where this project was implemented”.
In a remark, the Deputy Director, Special Needs in the Ministry of Education, Mr.Aisheiedion Akere said plans were underway to domesticate the national policy on inclusive education with the success of the pilot programme in Kaduna state.
Hightlights of the event were presentation by students with disabilities under the SMiLE project and award presentation to partners for their support towards the success of the project in the last one year.
Florence Adewale, Edited By Grace Namiji
Written by: Elizabeth David