In a programme organized by the Strategy for Mentoring Initiative and Leadership Empowerment in partnership with United Nations Information Centre, held at the main auditorium of the Redeemed Christians Church of God at the Churchchrist parish, Gbagada Lagos, to mark the UN international Youth day, participating persons with disabilities spoke on challenges confronting special people.
Speaking at the event that is globally recognized are Adefala Alaba,the Executive Director of Voice for the Deaf Foundation (VDF) and Ejiro Okotie, the CEO of Hope Inspired Foundation among others as they bear their minds on some of the challenges currently facing people with disabilities in empowering themselves, gaining access to quality education and how they can surmount the challenges to achieve great feat.
On his part, Alaba, who is a pre-lingual deaf person, noted that the challenges faced by Deaf students in schools are associated with the effectiveness of teachers.
He explained that most teachers who are not professionally trained in sign language would constantly skip words they don’t know how to sign when trying to spell out sentences to pupils in classroom. He noted that when it is time for marking of pupils’ classworks, these teachers would just pass them not minding whether the pupils have learned anything or not. “This affect pupils negatively later in life” he explained.
Recalling his own experience, Alaba said that those pupils who face similar case will have hard time in learning situations when they get to college.
Proferring solution on what Government can do, Alaba said that what was most important is to provide professionally trained sign language interpreters and good Deaf teachers who are competent enough to help teach and fruitfully impart pupils in schools.
Alaba equally enjoined persons with disabilities to maintain positive mindset on the issue of life, “…be a positive thinker, remove any negative thinking, work hard on your own and don’t depend on anyone in life. Always sit down and think on how to move your life forward then you will be great”, he adviced.
On her part, Ejiro Okotie, a visually impaired woman who was invited as speaker alongside Alaba, was asked her opinions on challenges persons with disabilities face in Nigeria and how she was able to surmount her challenges despite her disabilities.
Okotie rhetorically asked that when people are talking about “inclusion”, how truly was inclusion applied? She added that as big as Ikorodu was, there was only one inclusive school and the teachers are not trained enough in sign language, braille aren’t enough for the pupils. The school lack adequate facilities.
She said “in the past, you use braille to write examinations, questions are asked through speech and writing, it’s alot of stress but thank God for technology. With technology, everything is getting a little better”
She added further that technology is very expensive in Nigeria. For example, one can’t buy apple phone or a laptop that one could use to copy notes in a classroom. How is govt going to help solve these educational problems? “Govt isn’t carrying us along so we are not truly practising inclusion in real life” she lamented
Okotie adviced on the need to involve concerned stakeholders in matters concering people with disabilities., “we need to start to work with our minds to create a system that truly affect persons with disabilities and the injured group can benefit from the system”, she summed up