The Outliers School, Surulere, in collaboration with Non-Governmental Organisations focused on disability issues, has staged an advocacy walk to demand disability inclusion in schools.
The walk, which had students and teachers of the school, including members and staff of Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of Nigeria (SBHAN), Festus Fajemilo Foundation (FFF), and Human Development Initiatives (HDI), was held in commemoration of the 2022 Children’s Day.
The Director of the Outliers School, Mrs. Eniola Olajobi, an Education Psychologist, frowned at the attitude of some school owners who reject students with disabilities from enrolling in their schools.
Mrs. Olajobi noted that when Children with Disabilities (CWDs) learn in the same environment as regular children, it boosts their intellectual and physical ability which makes them functional and useful for themselves and the society at large.
She advocated for the training of teachers in public schools on special needs education to enable them to impact knowledge in those categories of children in school.
Also speaking, Mr. Samuel Ajayi, Programme Officer, HDI, commended the Outliers School for taking the initiative to advocate for inclusive education.
Ajayi who commended the Lagos State Government for the creation of 48 inclusive public primary and secondary Schools and existing policy on Inclusive Education, noted that the government needs to do more to ensure that the inclusive units are situated in appropriate locations with accessible facilities.
Mr. Hassan Funmilayo, the Acting President of SBHAN who is also a parent of a CWD, shared his experience of rejection and hopelessness when he wanted to enrol his child in school.
“About 9 schools rejected my daughter because of their fear, nostalgic & discriminatory perception of children with disabilities. The Outliers School was the only one that gave us hope and confidence that she was educable and can learn just like any other Child with patience and care.
“It is important for members of the public to know that CWDs have a right to quality education and learning opportunities irrespective of ability or disabilities,” Funmilayo added.
Funmilayo also urged public and private school administrators to provide a “conducive and enabling disability friendly-environment for CWDs, adding that both private and public schools should be encouraged through capacity building towards inclusive Education as it is a global commitment to ensure that no CHILD is left behind.”
Some other parents of CWDs who participated in the walk also urged Nigerians to desist from stigmatizing and demonizing their children who are God’s gifts to them.
The children, who walked from Iponri to the Surulere Local Government Secretariat, carried placards with various inscriptions such as: free quality Inclusive Education is a right not a privilege, make public schools inclusive and leave no child behind, among others.