Last Friday, the School of Special Education of the Federal College of Education, Special (FCES) Oyo, concluded its 7th Biennial National Conference where distinguished scholars within and outside the institution spoke to the theme of the conference; Education, health, insecurity, entrepreneurial opportunities and challenges for persons with special needs in Nigeria as it could be alleviated.
The speakers noted the vulnerability of persons with disabilities in the face of insecurity and economic challenges, with education and health factors not exclusive.
Dean, School of Special Education in the college, Dr Babatunde Olorode, in his speech at the opening ceremony of the National Conference decried the neglect of persons living with disabilities during the austere situations in the country.
According to him, the School of Special Education’s concern for vulnerable persons in terms of disabilities in the society informed the theme of the conference for the invited scholars and researchers in different fields drawn from the country to find a sustainable solution to the problem.
According to him, in the absence of enabling environment, efforts must be made to create alternative that will make life bearable for persons with disabilities.
The keynote presenter at the event, Professor Oyedunni Arulogun from University of Ibadan, described the theme of the conference as something that should not be held with levity but that needs urgent attention to address the situation.
According to her, every human being has his or her unique potential values that could be translated to wealth for him, or her. Persons with disabilities are not exempted from this innate ability.
She said, “In this light, people living with all forms of disabilities need our assistance to develop a skill for them to contribute meaningfully to society. They can look within their disability to identify opportunities and turn those opportunities into worthwhile contributions to society.
“It is high time tertiary institutions in the country revised their curriculum to prepare students, especially those with disabilities for the entrepreneurial world, in terms of skill development, a curriculum that will change their mindsets to an entrepreneurial mindset; transiting them from the world of school to work.
“There are jobs in the country only that people are not fit enough to take up these jobs This is because the 21st-century skills that are needed to take up these jobs are lacking. Hence, the need to remodel and revise our school curriculum to ensure the 21st-century skills are given to all our undergraduates in tertiary institutions in the country.
Speaking in the vein, Mr Kolawole Olugbodi, Chief Executive officer (CEO) Check International, Lagos, Nigeria, advised people living with any form of disability challenges to rise up from their state of self-pity, and turn their minds and eyes away from how people, prejudice and stigmatize them and rather develop their inborn abilities.
Sharing his experiences as a disabled person at the occasion he advised that nobody with special needs should depend on people around them, rather to do all they can do to develop themselves and become somebody great and relevant in life, Dr Oludolapo Adesina, one of the conferences organizing committee members lamented the increasing bad state of insecurity in Nigeria.
According to her, the situation informed the theme of the conference to imitate people living with disability with the security consciousness strategies. She noted that many graduates ate jobless, roaming about the streets and felt that entrepreneurial education should be introduced to them, especially the persons living with a disability.
As she advised parents and the general community to support the entrepreneurial education development of the vulnerable children in our environment, she suggested that the institution of learning in the country should upgrade the school curriculum to be more functional that would suit our environment. “Our curriculum should be problem-solving that will encourage entrepreneurial skills for undergraduates in the tertiary institutions of learning
” The development will go a long way to reduce unemployment in the society”
Similarly, Professor J.O Oyundoyin from the University of Ibadan, stated that about 27 million Nigerians suffer from various disabilities that need adequate attention for survival.
According to him, everyone has a role to play in ensuring a well-deserved life for persons with special needs in Nigeria. “We must join forces to fight for the rights of persons with special needs in Nigeria. We must join voices to speak for their good”, he said.