FCT education policy for people with disabilities ready soon – Minister

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The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello,
said a draft policy on education for people living with disabilities in the territory would be ready soon.

Bello stated this when he received a report from Mrs Ekaete Umoh, who led Committee on Inclusive Education Policy team to him on Friday in Abuja.

He assured that FCT Administration (FCTA) would incorporate in its building policy, regulations that would ensure that new public building approvals, particularly education facilities, met the standard for accessibility by children with special needs.

The minister directed the FCT Permanent Secretary, Mr Chinyeaka Ohaa, to set machinery in motion toward implementing the building policy.

Bello said FCT would remodel and renovate three schools in the territory as pilot scheme for this purpose.

The schools are GSS Jabi, GSS Festival Road Garki and Pilot Science Primary School in Wuse Zone 5, Abuja.

According to him, the costing and budget for the renovation shows it is something the FCTA can
immediately fund.

He added that “hopefully, we will be able to accommodate other ones when we finalize our 2018 budget.

“What we are doing, along with other interventions, is something that will be sustainable.

“We, as public officers, have to ensure that the policy is well entrenched so that when officers change, the policy is still there.”

The minister thanked USAID for its assistance in driving the policy, as he canvassed for the establishment of robust institutional memory framework and record keeping that would ensure that legacies of the policies were entrenched.

Earlier, Ekaete Umoh, National President, Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) said Nigeria assented to the UN convention for inclusive education 1994
but regretted that the issue had since been downplayed.

Umoh told the minister that most special needs schools lacked basic education infrastructure, human material and financial resources.

She said JONAPWD and the USAID approached the FCT education secretariat to partner with them to roll out the project of inclusive education in the capital city.

She added that “USAID thought it wise that they have to start this project in Nigeria, being a huge country, which plays a great role in Africa; that they have to test-run inclusive education.

“The agency co-opted JONAPWD to first of all set up a policy that will run inclusive education and FCT, Kwara and Akwa Ibom states were chosen.

“For that of FCT, the work to champion the cause of inclusive education was placed on the education secretariat.”

She appealed to the minister to sign off the policy on Inclusive Education for children with disabilities in the FCT, as well as set up 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.

The USAID Representative, Ifeoma Nwosu, said most children with disabilities were out of school because the learning facilities were not accessible, making them unable to compete with their peers.

According to her, government needs to evolve policies to drive the process of inclusive education, while USAID complements and encourages other donor agencies to assist.

She said “We don’t expect USAID to provide all the things we need in schools. What USAID, through JONAPWD is asking is only but little. We already have most of these schools in existence.

“What we are asking is just rehabilitation; remodel some of the facilities to be inclusive for persons living with disability.”

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