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Why government should develop policy for inclusive learning in schools

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Nike Agunbiade-Etiebet

Chief Executive Officer, HIIMA International Education Network, Dr. Nike Agunbiade-Etiebet, has called on the Federal Government to solidify policies that would mandate schools to practice inclusive education, saying research has shown that when children with special needs attend classes alongside their peers who do not have disabilities, the benefits are massive.

Speaking during the HIIMA Business Opportunity Meeting with education stakeholders at Silversands Hall School, Lekki, Lagos, Agunbiade-Etiebet expressed regrets that about†98 per cent of Nigerian schools do not accept special needs students, thereby pushing parents to lock up such children at home.

Citing the life and time of the late Physicist and author of A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking, and what would have become of him and the world, if he was locked up by his parents, she charged government to create policies that would encourage schools to admit children with Special Educational Needs (SEN).

She said, “There is need for inclusion in Nigerian schools at all levels.†A child has special need if he has disabilities that make it difficult for him to perform tasks children his/her age can perform. A child SEN when he/she has significant learning difficulties that make it more challenging for him/her to learn like other children of the same age. In†developed countries like U.K. when a child is diagnosed as having SEN, government works with the school to take care of the child’s education by providing what is called “Special Educational Provision”. That is government together with the school will provide extra help for the child with SEN to learn quickly.

“This help is usually of a Graduated Approach. That is a continuous and continuum of help gradually to help with the child’s learning. This is not so in Nigeria. The government does not provide for SEN and there is no law or policy in Nigeria to compel schools to practice inclusion.
Noting that teachers in Nigeria are not trained to handle or teach children with SEN, she urged government to assist schools by providing SEN training for their teachers and also makes law of inclusion in Nigeria Schools. “That is a law that compels school to practice ‘Functional Integration’ of children with SEN in “mainstream “ or regular Schools.”

On what HIIMA is about she explained, “It means high love: teaching children with love and respect to unleash their potentials for greater heights and to make a positive difference in the world. It provides great equal opportunity in education but recognises individual differences. HIIMA believes the child has natural propensity, predisposition and talents to succeed, explore, create, innovate and better the community.ª


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