Written by Godfrey AKON

Over 32 million Nigerians suffer from dyslexia

Over 32 million Nigerians suffer from a learning disability called dyslexia which affects reading, spelling, writing and comprehension.

Chairman Board of Trustees, Dyslexia Foundation of Nigeria, Mr Ben Arikpo, who disclosed this at a press conference in Abuja, said one in every six students in the country has dyslexia, making the problem more endemic than autism which has only one victim in 80 persons.

Arikpo noted that dyslexia has become the most common learning disability in the country and elsewhere in the world as it is estimated that the problem affects 15 to 20 per cent of persons in any given population.

He regretted that despite the seriousness of the problem among children of school age, awareness has not been created for teachers to know how to handle children diagnosed with the condition.

According to him, the lack of awareness among teachers, parents and peers had resulted in abuse of victims with the condition who lose their self-esteem in the process and sometimes, drop out of school.

He therefore called on government to take over the license for training of teachers in primary and secondary school on dyslexia to correct the condition among students.

“Over 32 million Nigerians (in and out of school) face educational exclusion and negative life outcomes on account of dyslexia. It is possible to assume that the high number reported for out-of-school children in Nigeria is attributable to dyslexia.

“Worst still, the awareness, support systems and necessary accommodations for persons with dyslexia and related learning disorders are virtually non-existent in the Nigerian educational system,” he said.

Arikpo further decried the lack of workplace policies to protect the rights of people with the condition, adding that this has resulted in a culture of silence and denial among many people with dyslexia as they are afraid to come public with their status.

He warned that “without identification and remediation, children and individuals with dyslexia are at risk of lifelong challenges along with the many negative social and economic consequences.”

“It is for this reason that the foundation has decided to mark the International Dyslexia Awareness Month with the 2nd National Conference on Dyslexia in Nigeria and a follow-up teachers’ training this October,” he said.

 He said the conference which is slated for October 29, 2018 would discuss and advocate for policy frameworks to support persons with dyslexia in Nigeria, as well as launch the first handbook on dyslexia for schools, teachers and families.

Dyslexia Foundation of Nigeria was established in 2015 with the goal of creating awareness, providing remediation, training and support to people with dyslexia.

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