Thursday, 21st September 2023

Visually impaired students urge govt to enforce equal rights to work

By Victor Odogwu
05 April 2023   |   3:10 am
The National Association of Nigerian Visually Impaired Students (NANVIS) has called on federal and state governments, as well as authorities of schools, to provide more facilities to meet the needs of visually-impaired students.

Donate relief items to LUTH paediatric section
The National Association of Nigerian Visually Impaired Students (NANVIS) has called on federal and state governments, as well as authorities of schools, to provide more facilities to meet the needs of visually-impaired students.

The association stated this at its just-concluded yearly programme of the University of Lagos chapter of NANVIS with the theme, “Black, Blind, Bold, and Beautiful. (Power Of The 4Bs)” and sub-theme, “Diamond in The Sky.”

The Planning Committee Chairperson, Ahmed Kareem, in an interview with The Guardian, said: “I feel this theme and sub-theme best describe us as blind people.”

He further said that the reason for the theme was to project that they are black and blind, but that should not stop them from being bold and demonstrating their beauty to the world.

Also, President of the association, Emeka Okeke, said he and members of the executive committee needed to give back to the society, which was done on Valentine Day this year.

He said: “On that day, visually impaired students and their friends donated relief items to the paediatric section of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH).

Besides, the association’s Welfare Secretary, Blessing Opara, said they needed to make a point that “blind students are not only receivers, but can also give back to those in need.”

In the same vein, Faith, a visually impaired student, said: “I felt really sad when I met those children.”

She said that the experience she had with the children who needed extra care just to survive made her appreciate herself more despite her blindness.

The next aim for the three-day program was awareness. On day two of the event (March 30th, 2023), the association hosted members of the Vocational Training Center to a sport competition that featured both mental and physical games such as: Goal Ball, Rhyme Game, skipping competition, etc. on the last day of the three-day program, the association continued the awareness with a walk within the school campus and ended at the Julius Berger Hall for the Grand Finale/Award Show.

Some of the dignitaries present were Sub-Dean of the Faculty of Social Science, Dr. Adedebo Ayobade; Senior Liberian, Dr. Adefunke Alabi; and representatives from the Lagos State Ministry of Education.

“My biggest regrets is the timing of today”, The President told The Guardian! “We would have had a bigger presence from the University management but for the university cancel meeting also going on today”.

The University of Lagos is one of the leading universities in Nigeria that admits students with visual impairment. At the moment, fifty-five of them are studying in various faculties like Education, Arts, Social Sciences, Law, and Management Sciences. In the interview, The President, Emeka Okeke said the association decided to reward its members who though are not the overall best students in their faculties, but are still high achievers. For example, one of the visually impaired students is on a current Cumulative Grade Point Average of 4.36. On the school’s standard, he isn’t the best; but considering he attained this despite the challenges of inaccessibility of materials and other hindrances, his excellence needed to be rewarded.

This Said student is one of the hundreds of visually impaired students that would graduate from the university system, but find it next to impossible to find a sustainable job in Nigeria. The problem of unemployment in Nigeria is projected to hit 37% this year according to the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), but The Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition Act) states that

“All employers of labour in public organisations shall, as much as possible, have persons with disabilities constituting at least five per cent of their employment” “I am calling on the government to do something about the high unemployment rates of persons with visual impairment”, Mr. Okeke said to The Guardian. “They can start by enforcing the law on equal rights to employment”, he added.

In conclusion, Emeka Okeke thanked the school management for their efforts towards making life in school more inclusive for students with visual impairment, and called on them to do more as regards providing more facilities to meet the needs of the growing numbers of visually impaired students.