A centre that provides capacity building for children with disability has been established in Lagos. The centre is located in Surulere area of Lagos State.
The centre will provide training, learning aids and vocational education for children with disabilities in order to develop and harness their potentials. No fewer than 50 pupils will enlist in the school for an initial 12 months programe
According to a statement on Wednesday, the Ford Foundation West African Regional Office is working with the Journalists for Democratic Rights, (JODER) and other civil society groups working on disabilities.
JODER in the statement signed by its officials Adewale Adeoye and Akin Kasali said the Centre is for children who suffer many forms of exclusion and are affected by the impacts in varying degrees, depending on the type of disability.
Even as the Presidential aspirants campaign across the country, and the mainstream media sets agenda for national development, the faint voices lend to issues of disability is a strong indication of how political and economic powers pay little attention to a major national issue of human exclusion, JODER said
The media group said in many countries such as Nigeria, responses to the situation of children with disabilities are largely abandoned or neglected with the society rooted in negative or paternalistic assumptions of incapacity, dependency and difference that are perpetuated by ignorance.
The situation, JODER said diminishes their potentials and limits their contributions to the society while undermining their individual prosperity.
JODER said in Nigeria, some 18.5% children are out of school according to UNICEF, adding that mostly affected are children with disabilities.
It said the World bank projects that persons with disabilities constitute about 15% of populations in developing countries and that between 80 to 90% of them don’t gain access to basic needs of life especially basic education, there are many gaps that can be filled by civil.
It said the the primary underlying causes of this situation are the exclusive and inaccessible nature, structure and system of virtually all primary and secondary schools in Nigeria; the confinement of the education of children with disabilities to very few, poorly staffed, poorly equipped and outdated special schools.
The problem is compounded by very low public awareness on issues of inclusive education; inadequate institutional and human capacities required to implement inclusive education; and inadequate, poor implementation or non-availability of appropriate legal and policy frameworks required for the implementation of inclusive education for children with disabilities. As such, most educational plans most likely do not adequately address the needs of those with disabilities, pushing them further to the margins of society.
The Ford Foundation, Journalists for Democratic Rights (JODER) working with
Independent Diamond Life for PLWDs and Dream Land Foundation
other civil society groups seek to raise awareness on the challenges of vulnerable population in Lagos state as well as support a community center for children with severe/multiple disabilities who are excluded from accessing assisted educational opportunities.
‘The focus is on those with sensory disability such as visual, hearing impairment and speech challenges. The centre adopts a social and human rights-based approach to disability which recognizes disability as caused by unaccommodating social environments, institutions and attitudes. One of the major challenge is lack of effective media coverage on the plight of the physically challenged, societal neglect, exclusion from social and economic framework, lack of capacity building, discrimination and lack of access to opportunities or outright denial where and when such opportunities arise. Kasali said the centre’s services are adopted from the UNICEF inclusive social model. It is a community service centre that provides disability specific learning support for abandoned children with disabilities. The centre provides housing support, learning and vocational training for children and young people between the ages of 5-20 years. Some of the programs at the centre are Orientation & Mobility for the Blind, Daily living skills, Braille (reading and writing), Sign Language and continuous guidance and counseling.
JODER noted that Nigeria is a signatory to many international and regional treaties such as the Cconvention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC). The 1999 Nigerian Cconstitution as amended also states that a citizen of Nigeria irrespective of ethnic groups or disability must not be deprived by reason of the circumstances of his birth. This is in consonant with section of 1 of the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities ( Prohibition) Act 2018 and section 1 of the Lagos State Special People’s Law 2010 which prohibits all forms of discrimination and other harmful practices against persons with disabilities. The programme also has a media training component to raise public attention on issues of disability for the good health and prosperity of the country.