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British Council tasks FG on inclusive education for special needs children

The British Council has called on the Federal Government to ensure the prioritisation of inclusive education to cater for special needs children in the country.

The Director of Programmes of the  British Council, Chikodi Onyeremela, made the call in Abuja on Tuesday.

Onyeremela’s call was made at the Annual Inclusive Education Conference organised by the Council.

The theme of the conference was: ’ Fostering Inclusion and Equity in Education’.

Onyeremela said that prioritising inclusive education would help provide equal opportunities and platforms for everyone to thrive.

He added that it would also provide for the diversification of opportunities and pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Nations across the world deploy inclusive strategies into their educational system. We must at this stage cast our net far and wide.

“There is a thin line between ability and disability. Therefore, the government must put mechanisms in place to ensure disability concerns are taken care of in our educational system,” he said.

Also, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Educational Research Development Council (NERDC), Prof. Ismail Junaidu said that the government must take responsibility for fulfilling the fundamental rights of the education of the children.

Junaidu emphasised the need to design a curriculum that includes all children with special needs.

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According to him, NERDC already has a robust framework for special needs education in Nigeria, but implementing the framework needs a holistic approach which requires immediate attention.

Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Education, Dr Yusuf Sununu said in its support of inclusion and equality, Nigeria had signed and ratified the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Article 24.

Sununu said this article provided that all schools must be inclusive, and accessible to all children including those with disabilities.

He added that Nigeria also signed to the 17 SDGs), particularly goal four with aspirational targets that by 2030, all school-age children, including those with disabilities, must have access to qualitative, functional, and effective basic education.

He said: “The Ministry is working hard with relevant agencies and development partners to craft a support system to address some of these challenges that have been identified.

“Recognising the diverse needs of our students, we will continue to strengthen and expand Inclusive education programmes and provide services that ensures that no child is left behind.

“Our mission, as a ministry, is to dismantle existing barriers to the attainment of these goals and ensure that every child’s right to quality education is attained”.

In the same vein, the Country Director, British Council, Nigeria, Lucy Pearson charged the government on inclusive policy formulation as well as mainstreaming the policy into the system.

Pearson said it is high time Nigeria transformed her educational system to make it conducive for persons with special needs.

The conference was attended by stakeholders from the private sector, school owners, development partners and the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).

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