Access to digital resources will enhance learning for people with disabilities, say experts
Disability rights advocates and concerned stakeholders have called on private and public sectors to collaborate and make digital resources accessible to persons living with disabilities for the enhancement and promotion of inclusive learning.
This consensus was reached at the November edition of EdTech Mondays, an initiative of the Mastercard Foundation in partnership with Co-Creation Hub.
The virtual roundtable featured a three-man panel that comprised Founder and Executive Director of Disability Not A Barrier Initiative (DINABI), Olajide Funso Benjamin; Head of Programme, Disability Rights Advocacy Centre, Amaka Ogwu and a Bio-medical Engineer, Oluwatomisin Kolawole.
With over 400 million children living in Africa, data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed that 10-15 per cent of children live with disabilities.
It further stated that out of about 60 million primary and secondary school-age children living with disabilities, half of them are out-of-school.
In Nigeria, an estimated 32 million people, comprising mostly children, live with disabilities, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). It is said that at least 95.5 per cent of these children are out of school, owing to the challenges and barriers they face in accessing education.
Speaking at a roundtable session, themed: ‘EdTech as an enabler of education for learners with disabilities,’ Benjamin noted that the situation of learners with disabilities in Nigeria are quite depressing.
He said it will take the efforts of both the public and private sectors, especially in the area of investment and policy development, to make it better.
“The status of learners with disabilities in Nigeria is in a deplorable state. While we practice special education in Nigeria, most developed countries allow inclusive education for persons with disabilities. Over the years, the education system for persons with disabilities in Nigeria has been largely underfunded. And I believe the lasting solution lies with stakeholders developing less expensive teaching aids, localising software and applications to accommodate the peculiarities of the learners’ areas, and training personnel on the importance of technology to education,” he said.
While admitting that Nigeria lacks the policies needed to enhance learning for persons with disabilities, he urged policymakers to review the national education policy to accommodate the use of EdTech that will support learners with disabilities.
In his remarks, Kolawole stressed the need to provide capacity-building skills on the use of digital resources both for teachers and learners, as this would help in solving challenges associated with the use of these resources and making learning easy.
On her part, Ogwu who identified poor learning environment and misconception around comprehension as major challenges affecting disabled learners, said effort should be made by stakeholders to provide tools or resources that are tailored to their needs.
They agreed on the need for policymakers and government to invest heavily on enabling tools and resources for disabled persons to enhance learning.