THE Leprosy Mission Nigeria (TLMN) has called for the inclusion of children with disabilities into regular schools as a means of ending every form of discriminatory practices against them.
The National Director, TLMN, Dr Sunday Udo, made this known on Thursday in Abuja during the annual advocacy Campaign, “We Ring a Bell”, aimed at creating awareness on Rights of Children with disabilities.
Udo said that the TLMN, a Strategic Partner Organisation of the Liliane Foundation was urging governments to implements legal, regulatory and policy frameworks to ensure access to quality education for children with disabilities.
Udo, who was represented by Mr Pius Ogbu, TLMN’s Head of Programmes and Operations, said that like every other facility, children with disabilities should access same school as other children. He, however, noted that teachers should be given special trainings on how to cater for children with disabilities and special needs in the classrooms.
“What we are saying is that we want an inclusive society, where everybody should be able to access whatever services you want to access, whether it is health. In the same way, when it comes to education, every child should be able to walk into a school within their community and still be able to access education.
“Even though you find yourself in a community where there is one school. That school should be able to cater for you, to provide the necessary education that you need. Children with special intellectual disability will require some level of special structures and provisions.
“But generally, other children with disabilities like visually impaired or physically disabled should be able to fit into every other schools that we find around us. For us as the Leprosy Mission, we have made a commitment that children with disabilities will not be left behind.
“The opportunity of using the “We Ring the Bell” as a campaign and as a slogan is to, one; speak to parents who have children with disabilities to say that there is hope for these children. These children have rights, these children have opportunities and we are using this as a means to say bring these children out, you have a helping hand, an organisation that is willing to stand by you.
“Secondly, we are saying to the government that you have a responsibility to ensure that once you have made a commitment, it must be followed through with actions, with the implementation of the necessary frameworks.
“Thirdly, for the children, we are saying to them that this “We Ring the Bell,” your voices are being heard. We might have ignored you for too long but as we ring the bell today, and as you ring the bell yourselves, we the adults are listening to you and we are making a commitment to say we will leave no one behind,” Udo said.
Mr Aturu Jonah, Director, FCT Department of Special Needs Education said that the FCT Education Secretariat had taken conscious efforts to implement policies on inclusive education. He said that they were also working in particular to address the gaps that were noticeable in the inclusive education sector, particularly for learners at all levels.
“Inclusive education is a system of education that allows children irrespective of their disability status to learn together under the same roof in the same learning environment. Paying attention to their peculiarities and meeting the specific targets and objectives for the education programmes. FCT is taking the bold step in providing the needed policy that will guide inclusive education delivery.
According to him, the policy is receiving the ministerial attention. We are most inclined to providing education for all with no exceptions.
“And, ensuring that the talents of all our children no matter their status is harnesses and they gain the opportunity to excel to whatever level they desire without any hindrance. We all know that the neurologically divergent disabilities cannot easily shuttle between their homes and their schools. For this reason, a special residential school established in Kuje.
“The school for special needs addressees needs of these children in other to reduce the stress of their commuting between their residence and the school. However, we intend that in every nook and cranny of FCT, wherever any child with disability resides, there is an opportunity for them to acquire education,” Jonah said.
He commended TLMN for championing the campaign as he called for consorted efforts of developing partners and the government to address the challenges of children with disabilities. (NAN)