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Nigerian educational system unfavourable to special needs pupils


Mrs. Amina Titi Abubakar

Mrs. Amina Titi Abubakar

WIFE of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, Mrs. Amina Titi Abubakar, has lamented what she described as the unfavourable and unconducive climate, which the Nigerian educational system presents children with special needs.

According to her, most children with disabilities find it difficult to fit into conventional schools because of peer discrimination and sundry learning barriers.

She therefore, pledged to forward a bill to the National Assembly, to give some respite to individuals suffering from autism in Nigeria among other similar health challenges.

The bill, which is being proposed through one of her pet project, Hope House Initiative, will among other issues, seek to establish the Special Needs Commission, which will in turn provide exclusive platform for multi-agency involvement in rendering special needs services.

The bill would also seek to amend the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) Act, by extending its functions to provide special needs education for children with learning difficulties.

Speaking at the 10th anniversary of the non-governmental organisation in Abuja, where she expressed optimism that the National Assembly would give the bill accelerated hearing and passage when submitted, she said, “In my observation, I think children with special needs are not enjoying the protection and full benefits of the Child Rights Act, Hope House Initiative, as an organisation cannot keep its eyes shut when such injustice is going on in our society.
“A bill of this nature, when passed will ensure dedicated budgeting, provision of infrastructure, staffing and variety of programmes, which shall be most beneficial to children with down syndrome and their families,” she noted.

Administrator of Hope House Initiative, Mrs. Babel Jaja, said the organisation exists primarily to give succour to children identified as having autism, noting that they provide extra love and care to them as any parent would do to bring up his child.

Babel, who charged students to take seriously, the task of observing their children at all times, especially those with down syndrome, stressed that children do not remember what parents do for them, as much as they thrive in the feeling that they allowed them to be children in their own right, and feel that their parents cherish them.

Professor of Special Needs Education and Rehabilitation Sciences, Ihenacho John, decried the lack of government support for children with autism, stating that it was a standard rule across the world for governments, and not parents, to care for the population.

He noted that though a draft Policy on Special Needs Education had been drafted by the Federal Government and approved by the National Council on Education, the process of bringing it up for implementation was yet to be completed.

He called on the government to complete the National Identification and Assessment Centre, which is located along Airport Road, Abuja, while also setting aside funds for the care of children with special needs in the annual budgetary appropriations.

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