There are an estimated 1.2 billion young people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic response measures. Disruptions to education, employment, services and social support have changed the future of an entire generation.
As a bid for young people to take action to improve their lives now and in a post-COVID-19 world, the Global Youth Mobilization in partnership with the Special Needs Initiative For Growth in Nigeria piloted the Model for an Inclusive Quality Education and Social Ecosystem (MIQEE) project to address the negative impact of the pandemic on young persons with down syndrome and visual impairment in support to enable them to build back better in education and employment opportunities.
The MIQEE project consists of STEM, Robotics and career development schemes for young adults with down syndrome, and visual impairment and their educators to increase the number of youth with disabilities for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship. Over 40 beneficiaries from the Down Syndrome Foundation and the Resource Center for the Blind in Nigeria have benefitted from this project since its pilot on July 22nd 2022.
Amdi Salam, the creative director of the Special Needs Initiative For Growth stated that the goal of the project is to ensure that there is an equitable inclusive learning opportunity for youths with disabilities to learn side by side with youths without disabilities so that every young person can improve their quality of life through STEM, Robotics, Therapy, and other career practices which will, in turn, foster their self-reliance and prepare them for employment so as to reduce the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
During the career mentorship session of the young adults with down syndrome managed by the Administrative Director of the Special Needs Initiative For Growth, she outlined that one of the objectives of exposing the young adults with disabilities to the MIQEE Project is to help promote multicultural learning through digital skills so that persons with disability’s marginalization are removed from the equation.
Over the software engineering training for young adults with visual impairment, the youths with visual impairment got to integrate with software technologies such as python programming language to aggregate and analyse data.
According to Abiodun Oyeniran, the Chief Technical Officer of the Special Needs Initiative For Growth, he stated that programming can be challenging to learn, and for visually impaired (VI) learners, there are numerous additional barriers to the learning process in Nigeria.
Going forward, the MIQEE Project is aimed at equipping young adults with disabilities to reduce inequalities and set up a par for accessibility for youths with disabilities in Nigeria.
Racheal Inegbedion, the founding executive director of the Special Needs Initiative For Growth appreciated the Global Youth Mobilization for their partnership and support in the MIQEE Project; emphasizing that the end goal of the eight months project will enable Nigerian Youths with Disabilities to discover their passion and start making subconscious efforts to pursue a career path in what they have been empowered.