By Abdullahi Muhammad
Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has disclosed that the draft policy on education for People Living with Disabilities “will be ready soon.”
This was revealed, recently, when the FCT Committee on Inclusive Education Policy briefed the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, on progress of work.
He, however, directed the FCT Permanent Secretary, Mr. Chinyeaka Ohaa, to set machinery in motion for implementing the building policy,
According to him, the FCT will remodel and renovate three schools in the Territory as pilot scheme for this purpose.
He stated the schools to include GSS Jabi, GSS, Festival Road, Garki, and Pilot Science Primary School, Zone 5, Wuse.
“Already I have seen the costing and the budget and from what I have seen, at least we would be able to fund immediately the three pilot schemes. Hopefully, as we quickly finalise our 2018 budget, we will be able to accommodate the other ones.”
“What we are doing, along with other interventions, is something that would be more sustainable. We, as public officers have to ensure that the policy is well entrenched so that when officers change, the policy is still there,” he said.
While thanking USAID for its partnership in driving the policy, the minister canvassed for establishment of a system of robust institutional memory framework and record keeping that would ensure that legacies of these policies are entrenched, so that whoever comes in will continue to build on where others stopped.
Speaking earlier, National President, Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD), Ekaete Judith Umoh, said “Nigeria as far back as 1994 assented to UN Convention for inclusive education,” but regretted that the issue had since been downplayed.
She added that the FCT “currently has an average of 5 special schools with the enrolment capacity of an average of 1,000 pupils per school,” noting, however, that “most special needs schools are lacking in basic education infrastructure, human material and financial resources.”
“JONAPWD and the USAID approached the FCT education Secretariat to partner with them to roll out the project of inclusive education in the FCT,” he said.
Ekaete further appealed to the minister to sign off the policy on Inclusive Education for children with disabilities in the FCT, as well as set up an inter-ministerial technical working group to coordinate implementation of the policy.
She also requested the minister to map, designate, rehabilitate and properly equip at least nine existing public regular primary and secondary schools in the FCT to serve as pilot and demonstration of inclusive basic education.
Also speaking, the USAID representative, Ifeoma Nwosu, said “most children with disabilities are out of schools because the schools are not accessible, making them unable to compete with their peers.”
She said government needed to put policies on ground to drive the process of inclusive education, while the USAID complements and “encourages other donor agencies to work with them.”
“We don’t expect USAID to provide all the things we need in these schools. What USAID through JONAPWD is asking is only but little. We already have most of these schools in existence.”