Education Stakeholders in Kaduna State, on Thursday called on the Kaduna State Government to make its proposed policy on special needs education inclusive.
The stakeholders, made up of School-Based Management Committees (SBMCs), Parents-Teachers Associations (PTAs) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), made the call at a four-day meeting in Zaria.
The meeting was organised by DFID-Funded Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn-Engaged Citizen Pillar (PERL-ECP).
It was convened to push for the development of an inclusive education policy for effective schools management system in the state.
The stakeholders noted that what the state proposed in its draft policy on special needs education was exclusive education, where emphasis was placed on building separate schools for children with special needs.
Mrs Linda Umar of Gender Awareness Trust (GAT), an NGO, explained that the state draft policy proposed building separate schools in Senatorial Zones for persons with special needs.
“What we want is inclusive education by mainstreaming persons with special needs into the same learning environment with normal children.
“The National Policy on Education provides that persons with special needs should be provided with inclusive education services in schools which normal persons attend.
“The aim is to provide access to education for all persons in an inclusive setting as against building separate schools as proposed in the draft Kaduna State policy which encourages segregation,” Umar said.
Malam Lawal Sama’ila, PTA Chairman, Kaduna South Local Government Area of the state, called for the adoption of the National Policy on Special Needs Education, designed to meet the unique educational needs of persons with special needs.
Similarly, Malam Bala Jibrin, SBMC Chairman, Makarfi Local Government Area said society was moving toward inclusion, stressing that all exclusive ideas in education must be eliminated.
Mr Isitifanus Akau of PERL-ECP said that the essence of the meeting was for the public to make observations on the draft policy and for their views to be reflected in the final policy document.
Akau said that the primary goal was to make the education policy inclusive for the people of the state.
He explained that citizens’ engagement was among the five components of Open Government Partnership (OGP) that the state has signed on to.
According to him, the commitment provides a platform for the government and the citizens to decide as equal partners on how the state should be run.
“In the past, policy documents were formulated in the state without the involvement of non state actors, but the system has changed; let us take advantage of it and leave no one behind.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the National Policy on Education defines persons with special needs to include persons with visual, hearing, physical, speech and language and health impairment.
Others include persons with intellectual disability, emotional and behavioral disorders, learning disabilities, albinos as well as the gifted and talented. (NAN)