Written by Godfrey AKON

Minister advocates special education commission to stimulate inclusiveness

The Minister of State for Education, Prof Anthony Anwukah, has called on government to give a waiver for the establishment of a special education commission as provided in the national policy on education, NPE, to ensure inclusive education in the country.

Anwukah, who spoke at the 2017 Nigeria Annual Conference on Education, NAEC, in Abuja, lamented that although the NPE made provision for the establishment of special education commission, government was yet to implement it.

Represented by the Director of ICT, Ministry of Education, Mr. Ifegwu Oji, the minister maintained that transparency, efficiency and integrity must be deployed to revitalise existing frameworks to support government’s efforts towards achieving inclusive education in the country.

He therefore called for more exposure of regular teachers to the nature and demands of children with special needs, adding that more course units on special education should be made compulsory for would-be primary and secondary school teachers.

Earlier, the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Mr Sunny Echono, said government was poised to make Nigeria an economic model through the delivery of quality education.

Adamu, noted that the theme of the conference, “Achieving Inclusive Education through Innovative Strategies,” underscored the centrality of learners and inclusive education for every child, stressing that no child should be left behind for economic, socio-cultural, language and environmental reason or physical disability.   

He however noted that despite massive investment by government to promote inclusive education across the country, many disadvantaged children, especially in the north east, were still out of school.

“Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world accounting for 10.5 million out of the 20 million worldwide. These include the Almajiri, girls of school age (who constitute 60 %), children of nomadic pastoralists and migrant fishermen, and the one million children displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency.

“The continued existence of the phenomenon of out-of-school children is the strongest evidence yet that Nigeria has failed to achieve one of the EFA goals and MDG of universalising access to primary education for all school age children irrespective of social class, religion or ethnicity,” he said.

According to him, the education ministry has come out with targets, turnaround strategies and timelines to eradicate the socio economic and cultural factors impeding the eradication of exclusion suffered by out-of-school children. 

Adamu said the ministry has, among other things, “checked the exclusion from school in the affected states through targeted funding that adequately addresses the impediments to the universalisation of access to primary education.”

He said new evidence-based policies in important aspects of education needing serious attention such as National Language Policy and the establishment of the National Board for Arabic and Islamic studies would be formulated to achieve more inclusiveness in education.

 

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