By Gbenga Salau
The Executive Director, Human Development Initiatives (HDI), Mrs. Olufunso Owasanoye, has said despite progress, current education resources are insufficient to achieve inclusive education, especially as budgets are not sensitive enough to support inclusion, which makes financing inclusive education very low.
Owasanoye stated that Nigeria lacks the teacher workforce required to deliver inclusive education, aside from that available teachers do not receive sufficient training to practise inclusion.
In a statement to mark the International Day of Persons With Disabilities, she said: “Many children with disabilities are out of school because they are never enrolled in the first place. Many are also less likely to complete their education than their peers, a factor associated with over-crowded classrooms, as teachers are unable to give them the support they need, and inaccessible learning environment.
“In addition to overcrowded classrooms and lack of teachers overall, the fact that the majority of teachers still lack relevant training is also a huge challenge to the inclusion of children with disabilities in education.
“The proportion of persons with disabilities in the teaching profession is very low. Encouraging people with disabilities to enter the teaching profession is key to overcoming stereotypes and stigma and also providing support to children with disabilities coming through the education system.”
According to her, Human Development Initiatives believes that when the environment is right for all, sustainable growth and development will seamlessly spur global peace.
“Lagos State Government should recruit more teachers and ensure that 20 per cent of teachers’ recruitment is set aside for teachers with special needs skills, as a way of progressively promoting inclusive education.
“The Medium Term Sector Strategy MTSS should be seen to promote inclusive education and build the capacity of initiators on gender and disability-based budgeting. Many children with disabilities are not in school, majorly because schools closest to them are not accessible to them and partly because their parents/guardians are not aware of the nearest locations of inclusive schools. Thus, effort must be made to improve schools quality to an inclusive standard, while the names of all the existing Lagos inclusive schools should be published.
“The Lagos State Government should make special provision, especially transportation, housing for teachers posted to rural and hard-to-reach areas of the state. The Lagos State government should do more to ensure that school infrastructure, facilities and surroundings are accessible to children with disabilities.”
She stated that ActionAid Nigeria, Human Development Initiatives, JONAPWD and other disability communities and education coalitions are always willing and ready to share practical recommendations outlined in various reports to support the implementation of sustainable measures, not just to perpetuate the status quo, but to progressively invest in the skilled teacher workforce needed to build back education systems that are better, more inclusive and leave no child behind.