Stakeholders in the education sector have urged President Bola Tinubu to make inclusive education the top priority of his renewed hope agenda.
Fielding questions from newsmen during an education conference organized by the Regalo Hope Foundation with the theme ‘Uniting for inclusive education’, founder and project coordinator of the foundation, Mrs.Chineye Onora, insisted that any school that failed to comply with educational inclusivity should be penalized.
In her words, “The essence of this meeting is to dialogue and impact knowledge through informed conversation. Inclusive education means having everybody, irrespective of their abilities, in the same classroom. We do not believe that people with disabilities should be separated from normal people. We believe that every child is the same. We want a learning environment where everyone is valued, respected, and honoured in the same classroom, irrespective of their abilities. We began this journey last October, where we trained over 80 educators and made them see the need to accept children with special needs. We have schools that do not accept children with special needs, and it’s becoming a serious problem as special needs children sit at home without learning, but through this informed conversation, we are beginning to show how these children can learn in the same classroom. There should be policies that enable every school to accept these children with special needs. Schools that close their gates against special children should be fined and punished.”
On her part, an inclusion strategist and researcher from the faculty of education at the University of Lagos, Aghedo Akran, noted that the Edustake conference is important as it’s a convergence of stakeholders in the education sector.
“Our policy says a nation cannot rise above the quality of its teachers and education. Inclusion is what everybody wants to talk about because there’s the SDG, which talks about inclusive and equitable education and lifelong learning for all; however, implementing it is the problem. Maybe that’s why we still have out-of-school children across the country because there are children from diverse backgrounds who are not integrated into school, so they remain at home. At a time like this, we need to let parents and school owners understand that we include all children in education regardless of their background, not their standing. We cannot get it right if we keep doing things the normal way. We need to do things differently. Educators and stakeholders in education must be receptive to innovation and change. Schools in Lagos and across Nigeria must be inclusive and equitable. So it is long overdue.”.