The Joint National Associations of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWDs) said inclusive education would change the narratives on how people perceived the disability community in Nigeria.
Mr. Stephen Waya, JONAPWD Programme Officer on Advocacy and Capacity Strengthening for Young Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) on inclusive education in Kaduna, said this on Wednesday when they paid an advocacy visit to the state Disability Affairs Board.
The project, which is for one year, is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Palladium, through a cooperative agreement with USAID.
He said the programme was currently run in Kaduna, Bauchi, Ondo, Anambra and Cross river states, including the Federal Capital, Abuja.
Waya explained that their visit to the board as the mother of all concerns regarding PWDs in Kaduna, was part of their strategies of bringing in stakeholders working around disability community to mobilise for their inclusive education.
He also explained that the visit was to enquire on the inclusiveness of education in Kaduna State, on the backdrop of their findings that most people were of the opinion that PWDs were not supposed to acquire formal education in same settings with others.
He stressed that inclusive education was, therefore, necessary to come in as a bridge where children with disability and the able-bodied, could come together and learn in the same environment without difficulties in terms of accessibility.
Waya explained that accessibility, a key factor towards ensuring inclusiveness, would address all the peculiarities of disability of different clusters.
“What may be seen as accessibility for a physically challenged person is ramps, while it is not for a blind or deaf person, which provision of interpreter and assistive technology devices have to be in place for them to learn.
“We are looking at inclusiveness in PWDs education, holistically,” he said.
Waya added that the overall objective of JONAPWD’s project was to advocate for the implementation of inclusive education provision as contained in Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of PWDs (UNCRPD).
He said it was also stated in part five of the Nigeria Discrimination Against PWDs (Prohibition) Act, 2018.
“As a specific activity objective, JONAPWD is expected to carry out a cross-country Political Economy Analysis (PEA) on current status of inclusive education across five selected project states and the Federal Capital Territory.
“Specifically, this PEA will aim to broadly give answers to why inclusive education is important, how existing education modules are being currently applicable for PWDs in project states.
“It will also give answers to the apparent gaps, especially on existing budgetary education provisions, workplans, learning environments in providing inclusive and sustainable education modules and the current placements educational stakeholders,” he said.
The programme officer said that they would be using the Kaduna State University (KASU) as a pilot tertiary institution to serve as a model for inclusive education for PWDs.
“We want to see if the institution has a policy which encourages inclusiveness and whether their budgetary allocation is addressing inclusive education, among others,” he said.
He said where they identified gaps pressing down on agenda of inclusiveness, they would bring in private partners and NGOs to support the initiative, noting that government alone could not handle it.
Responding, the Executive Secretary of the Kaduna State Disability Affairs Board, Mr. Aliyu Yakasai, said the visit by the group was timely.
He said that the board was planning to come up with an implementation plan of the Kaduna State disability law.
He added that coming up of the scale programme would help the board in achieving some of the objectives in the law.
Yakasai identified enabling physical structures for PWDs across the lowest to highest learning institutions in the state as the key barrier of achieving objectives of inclusive education.
He said the project would go a long way towards supporting the initiative of the Kaduna State Government in achieving inclusiveness.
He assured them of his support towards realising the objectives of inclusive education which he said was also a key area for the board.(NAN)