By Udora Orizu in Abuja.
Civil Society Organisations (CSO) in Nigeria, comprising the Human Development Initiatives, Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities ( JONAPWD), and Centre for Information and Technology Development (CITD), among others, has called on the government to raise the percentage of UBE intervention fund being made available for projects aimed at supporting disabled children across the country.
Speaking on behalf of the CSOs at a summit jointly organised by the HDI, JONAPWD and CITAD in Abuja, the Executive Director, HDI, Olufunso Owasanoye noted that the issue of inclusive education for children with disabilities has become crucial considering the 2014 National Policy on Education (NPE) which demands that the education of children with special needs shall be free at all levels .
She said since the federal government is saddled with this responsibility, they must conduct regular censuses, monitor them and provide special education equipment and training for them.
She expressed concern that currently only about two per cent of the UBE intervention fund is available to states for projects aimed at supporting children with disabilities.
“The evaluation of UNICEF’s child-friendly schools’ programme regarding this, shows that most schools lack appropriate resources, infrastructure and qualified teachers to meet the needs of these children,” she said, adding that the objective of the summit was to, among other things, “demand for increase in UBE funds dedicated to education of children with special needs from two per cent to three per cent.”
Owasanoye said the projects of HDI and CITAD in Nigeria jointly advocated for a review of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) dedicated to financing the UBE intervention and to the education of children with special needs from two per cent to four per cent.
“JONAPWD on the other hand seeks to improve the inclusion and access of children with disabilities to quality basic education in Nigeria through effective stakeholders’ advocacy engagement for policy influencing, capacity building and public awareness creation,” she added.
He told delegates that education remained the only panacea to ignorance, illiteracy subjugation and impoverishment in any society, adding that it had been the defining legacy in human development.
“In spite of that, without adequate sustenance, the ray of hope provided through the introduction of education to young minds may eventually dim out if not quenched. It is for this reason that the introduction of education to uneducated parents and guardians for their children and youths should be given utmost priority,” she said