The IREDE Foundation (TIF), an NGO focused on supporting children living with limb loss, has called for inclusive budgeting and implementation of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) policies for children with disabilities
Mrs Crystal Chigbu, the Executive Director TIF, said this at a Town hall Meeting on Mainstreaming Disability-Inclusive Budgeting for Children with Disabilities in Abuja.
Chigbu said the call became imperative because in spite of the numerous policies and laws on PWDs in Nigeria, fiscal provisions like budgetary allocation to operationalise these laws at all level of government have not been as expected.
She said PWDs still suffer the same challenges of discrimination, and marginalisation among others even in the budget process.
“We carried out a baseline line survey about two years ago and realised that there was no budget set aside for education for children with disabilities and as a result, they are not mainstreamed into education.
“So, you find out that a lot of children with disabilities stay back home because they are not able to go to school, even those that want to go to the inclusive schools their houses are probably very far away from the schools.
“The teachers are not well equipped to deliver effectively and as a result, the children are left behin .The whole essence of this project is for us to bring the attention of the government to this.
“This is so that going forward, we can start to have the education of children with disabilities being budgeted for because we know if its been budgeted for then we have the likelihood to have it implemented.’’
According to Chigbu, it is critical for us that this happens, that is the whole essence of this project.
She said the foundation inspires actions so that child amputees and their families would live an independent and limitless life and advocate for the full implementation of inclusive education legal frameworks at all levels.
“Inclusive education is not just a mere concept but a core of the foundation, it is our belief that children with disabilities should have equal access to quality education within mainstream schools, alongside their peers without disability.
“An inclusive environment fosters empathy, compassion, and understanding among children, which ultimately creates a more inclusive society.
“Inclusive education does not only improve academic outcomes, but also enhances social skills, self-esteem, and overall well-being of that child.
“ When we embrace inclusive education, we are paving the way for a future where children with disabilities can lead independent and self-sufficient lives,’’she said
Chigbu said that the town hall meeting brought together different stakeholders from the organisations of persons with disabilities, parents, policy makers, people who can in one way or the other affect decisions at the national and state levels.
This, she said was to ensure quality access to education for children with disabilities.
Mrs Angela Ajala ,TIF, Board Member and Education Expert ,said that inclusive education was not just about providing equal access, it was about fostering inclusive minds that celebrate diversity and embrace collaboration.
Ajala said that prioritising disability-inclusive budgeting would empower schools and educators to provide tailored support and resources to children with disabilities, ensuring that no one was left behind.
She said that the town hall meeting provided an excellent opportunity to learn from each other’s experiences and reflect on how best to design and implement effective and sustainable collaborative practices toward inclusive education for children with disabilities.
“Together, we have made substantial progress in mainstreaming disability-inclusive budgeting for children with disabilities. However, our journey is far from over.
“Let us reawaken our collaborative spirit, for it is through our collective efforts that we can truly make inclusive education a reality for every child. But we cannot stop here
“Let us reawaken our determination to make inclusive education a budgetary priority.’’
Mr Theophilus Odaudu, the Programme Manager, West Africa, Disability Rights Fund (DRF), said DRF provides support to organisations of PWDs across the group look to advance disability rights .
Odaudu said the support to the project by Irede Foundation for children with disabilities was hinged upon the principle of `leaving no one behind and not in for us without us’.
“As an organisation, we support persons with disabilities or provide even more support to those who are marginalised among the community like children with disability, whose voices are hardly heard.
“So, this project is meant to project the needs of children with disabilities, to advance their rights and to call for more budgetary allocation to ensure that issues that has to do with children with disabilities are not left behind.’’
Odaudu said that Nigeria has a lot of policies and laws on paper but the challenge lied with implementation.
He, therefore, called on ogranisations to continue the advocacy to ensure that policies where not just on paper but implemented.
He also called for increased budgetary allocation, accountability and monitoring to see how it could bt well channeled to ensure that children with disabilities benefited from it.