By Izunna Okafor, Awka
The Joint National Association of Persons with Disability (JONAPWD) has called for elimination of barriers, stigmatization and segregation against persons with disability, while also advocating an inclusive education for them.
The State Chairman of the group in Anambra, Comrade Ugochukwu Okeke made the call while speaking at a one-day advocacy and capacity building program organized by JONAPWD, which held in Awka, the State capital.
Tagged “Advocacy and Capacity Strengthening of Young Persons with Disabilities on Inclusive Education Framework in Nigeria”, the event was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Palladium, and carried out by the Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE) Nigeria. It also has dignitaries and stakeholders from different sectors of the State in attendance.
In his address of welcome, Comrade Okeke said that the advocacy for inclusive education for persons with disability was one of utmost importance and required urgent attention, given the place of education in human development.
According to him, quality education remains a major tool for the empowerment of persons with disability, whom, he said, are often denied access to education
He maintained that the issue of inclusive education cannot be relegated to the background, because quality education remains the major tool for the empowerment of persons with disability.
Further underscoring the importance of inclusive education Comrade Okeke called for strategic plans on how to make education in Nigeria inclusive for persons with disability, adding that “there is no way persons with disability can have quality education without Inclusive education.”
In his keynote address, the Director, Centre for Disability and Special Needs Research (CENDASNER), Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Prof. Williams Emeka Obiozor, who also represented the Vice Chancellor of the University, recounted the successes so far recorded by the Centre, even as he commended the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Charles Esimone who established the Centre in 2019 when he assumed office, based on his understanding that there is ability in disability.
While noting that the Center, which started with just 7 students at its inception, now has over 70 students fully registered with them; Prof. Obiozor also said the Centre had attracted grants worth millions of naira from AFFREXIMBANK, which was used for the purchase of learning materials to aid students with disabilities in the school, and disbursed ₦50,000 scholarship to each student with disability in the school. He also said there was an ongoing disability policy being attended to by the University, and an ongoing skill acquisition centre for all students in the school.
On his own part, the Program Officer, Mr. Usman Umoro explained Inclusive Education as the removal of barriers to learning, and involvement of all learners who otherwise would have been excluded through marginalization and segregation.
According to him, students with disabilities would perform effectively well if the barriers are completely eliminated.
In his closing remark, the JONAPWD Project Officer on Inclusive Education in Anambra State, Mr Onyekachi Ololo said achieving inclusive education in the State would go a long way in helping the State Government of Governor Chukwuma Soludo to achieve his vision of making Anambra State a liveable and prosperous homeland.
He further appreciated the stakeholders for their concern and commitment in making case for inclusive education, while calling for the sustenance of the advocacy.
The event featured goodwill messages from representative of the State Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, Mr Patrick Iwuanya; representatives of the Anambra State, Civil Society Organizations, and other stakeholders and members of the disability community in the State.