Free Education Policy: We Still Pay School Fees, Students With Disabilities Cry Out

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Despite Governor Abdullahi Sule’s free education policy for the physically challenged students studying in tertiary institutions owned by Nasarawa State Government, the physically challenged students of the state’s university in Keffi have cried out that they are still paying school fees in the institution.

The physically challenged students revealed this in their separate submissions during a disability advocacy meeting organised by the office of the Directorate of Strategic Communications and Press Affairs held at the Senate Chamber of the university in Keffi.

In his submissions, the leader of the physically challenged students at the university, Sunday Musa, complained that the disabled students of the institution still pay their school fees, despite the fact that school fees of all disabled students studying in tertiary institutions owned by the state government has been abolished.

Musa, however, appealed to the governor to, as a matter of urgency, intervene in order for an unhindered refund of the school fees paid unknowingly to the management of Nasarawa State University, Keffi.

“One other major challenge staring at our faces is the lack of interpreters in general courses. It is sad that the interpretation in the general courses to some of the physically challenged students involved is being carried out by a few students and does not get to the depth of the students’ understanding.

“Also blind students find it very difficult to go to lectures. We appeal to the governor to provide the blind students with the required writing materials, while we also requested for a computer bus that will be strictly for the physically challenged students in order to facilitate our intra-campus mobility in the university,” he said.

In his submission, Ismail Abdul lamented that out of the 15 per cent of the physically challenged in the state, seven per cent go to school but only two per cent of them get employment with the government.

Abdul added that the situation of the physically challenged is very pathetic as most of them come from a poor background, hence the need for the government to wipe away their tears by making jobs available for them. He said: “We, the physically challenged persons in the state, appreciate the government of Nasarawa State for declaring free education in the state from primary to tertiary levels of education.
“However, we wish to appeal to the state governor to keep data of all physically challenged students in order to know their various areas of specialisation in order to provide employment or empowerment to them as the case may be.

“Preferably, a census could be carried out by the state government to ascertain the exact number of the unemployed physically challenged graduates for employment by setting up a committee to that effect to avoid job racketeering by government officials.”

Earlier, leader of the Disability Advocacy Team and Personal Assistant to the Governor on Disability/Social Media, Awe, said the state governor has mapped out a working plan towards assisting the physically challenged who are either in school or in the informal sector.

In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Suleiman Mohammed, told the disability advocacy team that the institution has taken it as a policy that a provision must be made for the disabled students.

The Punch reported that the vice chancellor, who spoke through the Deputy Vice Chancellor Academics, Prof. Peter Osuorji, said: “In order to mitigate the hardship faced by the physically challenged of the institution, henceforth any storey building in the university must have special means of mobility for the disabled.”

Mohammed called on the physically challenged students not to hesitate to report anybody maltreating them to management of the institution.

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