Towards boosting the enrolment of children with disabilities in schools and ensuring they access education regardless of their disabilities, Festus Fajemilo Foundation, FFF carried out an advocacy programme at State Junior and Senior Grammar School, Itolo, Bode Thomas, Lagos.
The advocacy programme tagged, “We Ring The Bell” is an annual Advocacy programme of FFF, Daughters of Charity with the support of Liliane Foundation, Netherlands. Joined by Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities, JONAPWD for this year’s edition, the students were informed on the need to support their colleagues with disabilities and encourage other parents to enroll their children with disabilities in schools.
While speaking about the essence of the Advocacy and campaign Programme, Afolabi Fajemilo, Co-founder and Director, FFF, explained that “We Ring The Bell” is an annual advocacy programme which seeks to ensure children with disabilities have access to education.
Fajemilo commended the efforts of the Lagos State Government towards inclusive education but stressed that more needed to be done for in the interest of the children with disabilities and the society at large.
He said, “We want to appreciate the Lagos State Government in terms of having policy in place for Inclusive Education and we are working with the state government to further promote Inclusive Education in a way that teaching takes care of everyone regardless of disabilities.
“Lagos State has the highest number of inclusive schools in the country but there is need for more things to be put in place to ensure unhindered access to education.”
FFF identified 10 urgent Action Points which according to the director would ensure the full practice of Inclusive Education and not Integration.
The action points are; “Provide children with disabilities transport to school; Make buildings, furniture and grounds accessible for Children with Disabilities, CWDs; Provide adapted restroom facilities; Adapt lessons and rules for CWDs; Allow CWDs to participate in sports and games at schools;
“Teach regular children how to support CWDs; Stand up as parents for CWDs; Train teachers on interacting with and counseling CWDs; CWDs have the right to go to school; Let CWDs advance and enjoy.”
Fajemilo noted that with inclusive education, children are able to learn together in the same environment adding that, “when children learn together they perform excellently both socially and academically.”
While speaking, Dr. Mrs. Sherifat Yusuf, Principal, State Junior Grammar School Itolo noted that the school practices full inclusion and there is no sort of discrimination and stigmatization among the students adding that regular students are interested in learning sign languages so they could communicate effectively with those with hearing impairment.
She charged parents of CWDs not to deny their children access to education and also stressed the need for parents of those already enrolled in schools to provide the necessary support for their children.
State Junior and Senior Grammar School, Itolo is an inclusive school with students who are Physically Challenged, Deaf and those with learning disabilities learning in the same academic environment.