Sightsavers Nigeria and several organisations of persons with disabilities have urged the Nigerian Government and leaders across the globe to ensure that Children with Disabilities (CWDs) are not left out in the upcoming global Education Commitments.
The groups, in a letter sent to the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, urged the Minister to make clear policy commitments for CWDs ahead of the Global Education Summit in London between 28-29 July.
At the Summit, global leaders will be making five-year pledges to fund the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). This Summit has the potential to transform the lives of millions of children.
Nigeria has the greatest number of children out of school in the world – approximately 10 million. Most of these children aren’t in school because of barriers to poverty, gender and disability, and their situation has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Zaliha, a student with a disability, explained what inclusive education means to her “At school, I meet new friends, and I learn new things, so I know what life is about. If I had stayed home without going to school, I wouldn’t have known these things. I am calling on the government to help us because there are many girls with disabilities, like me, who would love to be in school, but their parents can’t afford tuition.”
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In recent years the government has made slight significant investments to make Nigeria’s education system more inclusive and accessible, but more needs to be done to reach children with disabilities, particularly girls, who are being left behind.
Sightsavers’ Country Director for Nigeria, Dr Sunday Isiyaku, said “Ahead of the Global Education Summit, I would like to advocate the government of Nigeria and civil society organizations to make a strong policy commitment towards social inclusion, specifically on inclusive education.
Nigeria is one of the countries with the highest number of out-of-school children in the world; thus, we need strong commitment on policy change and more funding to ensure all learners with disabilities have access to equitable, quality and accessible learning environments”.
Alongside the opportunity for Nigeria to support the joint Heads of States and Government statement led by co-host President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and make the required financial commitment to the GPE, there is also an opportunity for all countries to make additional policy commitments by Friday 9 July.
To support Sightsavers’ letter, the Programme and Administration Manager at Hope for the Handicapped Persons Foundation, Monday Ojonugwa Okwoli, said, “Inclusive education for all learners with or without disability is a vital way to integrate persons with disability into the mainstream economy fully. This ensures equal opportunity and level playing ground, as well as a sustainable and inclusive future for all”.
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Adding a voice, the Executive Director of Women with Disability Self Reliance Foundation, Risikat Toyin Mohammed, said, “access to inclusive education is access to justice. A world with inclusive education policies is a world without poverty. An inclusive education government is a government for everybody, leaving no one behind. Disability shouldn’t be a barrier to quality and accessible education.”
The letter is part of Sightsavers’ ‘Equal World’ campaign, calling on each participating government at the Global Education Summit to commit to children with disabilities benefitting from good, quality and accessible education.