85% schools in Nigeria not accessible to Persons with Disabilities – Lalu

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Abuja, 
Mr James Lalu, the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD) says 85 percent of schools in Nigeria are not accessible to persons with disabilities.

Lalu disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja while fielding questions from journalists on the sidelines of a two-day National Summit on Access to Education for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs).

The summit was to establish evidence-based situations on implementation of inclusive education for PwDs, in line with relevant national and International legal frameworks.

He explained that lack of accessible learning environment, inadequate teachers and assistive devices were factors denying Persons with Disabilities access to education.

”When you look at our schools in Nigeria, I can rightly say that about eighty five to ninety five percent are not accessible to persons with disabilities.

”Because structures are being raised on daily basis by federal, states and local governments that do not conform with the minimum accessibility standards for Persons with Disabilities to access.

”It is part of our mandate which was properly captured in sections 2 to 15 of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities Prohibition Act 2018,” he said.

He disclosed that the commission had come up with a national regulation on accessibility which provides new dimension and standards on accessibility of public buildings in Nigeria.

”There is growing inadequacy of teachers that are supposed to handle children with disabilities to ensure access to education,” he said.

The executive secretary called on stakeholders to support efforts towards ensuring that Persons with Disabilities have good access to education.

In his message to the event, Minister of State for Education, Dr Yusuf Sununu, said the summit came at a time the ministry was pushing for the implementation of the national inclusive policy on education.

The minister who was represented by Dr Claris Ujami, said, inclusive education is key to ensuring social inclusion, job creation and independent living for PwDs.

He expressed optimism that the commitment of stakeholders will help achieve inclusive education for children with disabilities.

”I think inclusive education is something that we can achieve if we can work together with all partners.

“I believe we can achieve the educational goals and the outcomes that we expect for Nigerian education sector” he added.

Earlier, Prof. Paulinus Okwelle, the Executive Secretary, National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), pledged to support effort towards strengthening access to education for children with disabilities.

”Many countries including Nigeria, have a means of exemption of equal accessibility to quality education for persons living with disabilities.

”Specifically, international policy on education stipulates that education must be delivered to all without any form of discrimination.

”Nigeria have arrangement with the United Nations to  provide access to education for persons with disabilities, with concrete efforts and having the merits to implement it with special attention to inclusiveness,” he said.

Stakeholders at the event were unanimous on the need for collaboration with relevant national and international organisations to achieve better outcomes for children with disabilities in Nigeria. 

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