• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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BusinessDay

Education for the handicapped suffers neglect

Kwara designs ‘mass media class” for SSS 3

Education for the handicapped, despite its entrenchment in Section (8) of the National Policy on Education, has continued to be a neglected arm of education in Nigeria, BusinessDay Education research has shown.

Out of about 5.3 million handicapped children of school-age throughout the country, only about 70,000 of them are enjoying any form of special education while about 5.23 million handicapped still require such education.

Data from the Special Education Unit (SEU) of the Federal Ministry of Education indicate that many states of the federation and Abuja have not shown much interest in the education of the handicapped. A statistical study carried out by the unit in 2018 states in part:

”Special education in Nigeria may yet commence the necessary metamorphosis towards rationalisation of objectives and harmonisation of modalities.

”This will be achieved through National workshops and seminars that come out with innovative scientific and grassroot-oriented guidelines for the coordination of special education development in Nigeria.

”It is hoped that the Joint Consultative committee will marry the different implementational approaches as well as the varying socio – religion – cultural thoughts in Nigeria into the long – sought – for realistic special education guidelines. ”

Education for the handicapped, apart from the apparent apathy of the supposed implementers, suffers lack of uniform guidelines on teacher/pupil ratio, our research also shows. It was found out that whereas in some states, the teacher/pupil ratio stood at 1:1, others it was up to 1:50, 1:30, and 1:25.

Stakeholders in the Education sector as well as affected parents, however, urged the government to ”redouble efforts to revitalise primary education in the country through the improvement of the learning environment, the provision of more books and employment of additional and qualified teachers. It will be necessary to look into the plight of handicapped children of School age.”

A senior official at the Federal Ministry of Education, who didn’t want his name in print, said, ”The situation is a worrisome trend. There is no commitment on the part of our policy makers. Government make pronouncements and that is finality.

”Three retarded children are in my family but I had to enrol them in private school because the nation’s education authority pays lip services period. ”

Efforts by our correspondent to reach Education Minister, Adamu Adamu on phone proved abortive, as his phone ranged severally without response.

However, the Nigerian constitution guarantees the right of education at least up to primary school level for all Nigerian children, irrespective of tribe, religion and natural endowment.

The handicapped fall into the category of children who, as of right, should receive education. More attention is therefore required in this regard for the handicapped if the Constitutional directive is not to be flouted.