By Justina Auta
Sightsavers Nigeria, an international NGO, has called on the government at all levels and other stakeholders to prioritise the inclusion of children with disabilities in learning to achieve sustainable development.
Ms. Joy Tarbo, Communications Assistant, Sightsavers Nigeria, made the call in a statement in Abuja in commemoration of the 2023 International Day of Education, with the theme, “To Invest in People, Prioritise Education.”
According to her, an estimated 244 million children globally is not in formal education, with Nigeria having one of the highest rates of out-of-school children.
“These children include the most marginalised learners, especially children with disabilities.
“Sightsavers wants everyone to know that with the right investment and education policies, all children can have access to quality education, regardless of their abilities.”
Tarbo said Sightsavers has been working with the government and partners on SMILE, an inclusive education project for children with disabilities, in Kaduna State.
She added that the project has created a locally-driven and sustainable model of disability-inclusive education in eight schools in Jema’a Local Government Area.
Dr. Sunday Isiyaku, Country Director, Sightsavers Nigeria, said: “In Kaduna, we have seen first-hand the positive impact that education can have on the lives of children with disabilities and their families.
“Inclusive education is not only a basic human right but also a powerful tool for achieving sustainable development.”
“We praise the government for their work on disability inclusion so far and call for them and others to continue on this path. Together, we can ensure that no child is left behind in their quest for education and a better future”.
Also, Ms. Esther Angulu, Sightsavers Programme Manager for Social inclusion, said: “We call on governments and communities around the world to take action so that children with disabilities can have the same opportunities to learn as their non-disabled peers.
“With the right support and accommodation, there’s no reason why children with disabilities can’t be educated in the same classrooms and schools as non-disabled children.
“Inclusive education not only improves educational outcomes for children with disabilities but also promotes social inclusion and helps to break down barriers of discrimination.”