JODER official, Akinwale Kasali, affirmed that civil society groups with cooperation from the Ford Foundation West African Regional Office and Journalists for Democratic Rights (JODER) have founded a center for children living with disabilities. The center is located in Surulere, Lagos State, Southwest Nigeria. There will be a provision of capacity building with inclusion of training, vocational education and learning aids for development of the potential of children living with disabilities. The center would be accommodating at least 50 pupils for the first twelve months of the program.
The official stated that the center is specifically created for children who suffer various forms of discrimination and are negatively affected in differing degrees, based on the form of disability. Kasali emphasized that even as presidential candidates rally nationwide and the media make initiatives for national development, the unrecognized helps devoted to issues of disability strongly reveal how political and economic leaders pay little or no attention to a prevalent national concern of human exclusion.
15 percent of people in developing countries are PLWDs.
Many countries, including Nigeria, have ignored and neglected responses to the state of children with disabilities, according to JODER, thus leaving the society overwhelmed with negative assumptions of incapacity, difference and dependency. This situation reduces the potential of disabled children, strikes a limit to their contribution to the society and undermines their personal prosperity. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) affirmed that out of the 18.5 percent of children who are out of school, many are children living with disabilities.
It was further stated by the World Bank that persons with disabilities sum up to about 15 percent of populations in developing countries, with about 80 percent of them lacking access to basic requirements of life, basic education in particular. JODER’s claim remained that the major reason why the situation has been left unchanged is because of the exclusive structure, and inaccessible system of almost all primary and secondary schools in the country; and the restriction of the basic education of these children to ill equipped and dilapidated special schools.
Poor public awareness compounds the lack of inclusiveness for PLWDs.
The issue of lack of inclusiveness for persons with disabilities is more fueled by poor public sensitization on inclusive education. There is a lack of awareness on inefficient institutional and human capacities needed for implementation of inclusive education; poor implementation of proper legal and policy frameworks needed to enforce inclusive education for children living with disabilities. As a result, many educational institutions do not efficiently deal with the needs of persons with disabilities, causing discrimination between them and the society.
This situation would be turned around by the Ford Foundation and JODER together with Independent Diamond Life for PLWDs, Dream Land Foundation and other civil society groups as they plan to raise awareness issues affecting persons living with disabilities in Lagos State while supporting a community center for children with any form of disability who suffer exclusion from educational opportunities. There is a particular focus on children with sensory disabilities such as speech challenges, hearing impairment and visual impairment.
Amended 1999 constitution disregards deprivation of rights.
Additionally, JODER claimed that services rendered by the center are taken from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) inclusive social model. The program, which includes daily living skills, sign language, orientation and mobility for the blind, braille (reading and writing) and continuous guidance and counselling is available for young people between the age of 5 to 20 years. The amended 1999 Nigerian Constitution asserts that a Nigerian citizen irrespective of ethnicity or disability must not suffer deprivation due to birth circumstances.