…As NGO marks International Day of Education, remembers vulnerable pupils
Experts in the field of Education have emphasized the need to give a pride of place to inclusive education that would cater to the special need children in order to achieve lasting peace in society.
This was noted at the 2024 International Day of Education event organised by Smiles for Orphans and Vulnerable Children Initiatives in collaboration with the Faculty of Education, Lagos State University, with the theme, ‘Learning for Lasting Peace.’
Speaking at the event, Samuel Oyedokun, a lecturer in the Department of Educational Foundation and Counseling Psychology, and Special Education Department, Lagos State University (LASU), advocated inclusive education that accommodates the special need students in learning for lasting peace drive.
“It’s only when the special need students are allowed to learn together with others can they have peace. Despite their disabilities, there are abilities in them, they are humans like other able-body humans. After all, every human being has a form of disability.
“It is the fact that inclusive education serves as place where special need children feel at home, like any other normal individual being; as such, they are to be trained and provided with all necessary materials and facilities in order to enhance educational attainment for them to be successful members of society,” he said.
He explained that inclusive education gives room for an interaction between the disabled children and the non-disabled ones to carry out their activities in common in order to cultivate the spirit of belonging to one another, united together in same classroom, playground, mosque and churches and other forms of gathering.
“Inclusion promotes friendship among students. Children with disabilities who are part of inclusive setting have greater opportunities to learn and practise friendship so also children without disabilities have the feeling in their mind that being with those who have disabilities improve their self-concept, increase their social awareness and acceptance of others, reduce their fear of human differences and help them develop personal principles and friendships,” he noted.
Layi Adebayo, LASU’s former chief librarian in his keynote address applauded UNESCO for dedicating January 24 every year to celebrate the role of education across the world.
He encouraged Nigerians to embrace education in order to be exposed to the numerous benefits accrued from learning.
“Learning is a pathway to lasting peace. With learning, you can easily resolve conflicts. With learning we can respect other people’s cultures and beliefs. With learning you can manage your health, know your rights, privileges and obligations.
“Learning is all encompassing irrespective of gender, age religion and ethnicity,” he said.
Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello, vice-chancellor of the Lagos State University, who was represented by Oseni Taiwo, the director of special interventions at LASU in her address, said that education was the cornerstone of progress and key unlocking the brighter future for all.
“Through education we equip individuals with the knowledge, skills, and values necessary to build peaceful and inclusive society,” she said.
The vice-chancellor further said that this year’s theme, ‘Learning for lasting peace’ resonates deeply with today’s world where people face complex challenges that require collective efforts to overcome.
She called on authorities and individuals concerned to raise the bar of their commitment to promoting quality education for all, bearing in mind the massive benefits of learning such as conflict resolution, among others.
Solomon Makinde, dean of Faculty of Education at LASU, in his welcome address said contemporary society craves for peace which makes the theme an ideal one at a time like this.
He said that the Lagos State University’s community was experiencing progress because of peace. Hence, according to him, many UTME candidates are choosing LASU as their school of first choice.
“To be in the state of peace is better than being in the state of war,” he noted.
Euriel Momah, founder of Smiles for Orphans and Vulnerable Children Initiatives, explained that one of the reasons for the initiative was to seek help to bring many Nigerian children out of the street and into the classroom.
“We are concerned about the plight of orphans and vulnerable children. Our main concern is to raise support for orphans and vulnerable children within and outside orphanage homes. We raise support for their education, health, feeding and general welfare,” he said.
Momah disclosed that the school children at the event would be given necessary school needs such as bags, foot-wears, uniforms, among others.