Nine year-old Haruna was born blind. After his birth, his parents had lost hope on him. They had however let him tag along with his older brother to school where he spent the whole school hour listening to the teacher but not grasping because he couldn’t see.
Everyone thought that his future will amount to nothing until the governor of his state, Governor Umaru Al-Makura established a school for his likes. The Lafia Comprehensive Special School, is strategically located near the NNPC Mega Station in Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital.
The school will chart a way and future for Haruna and other children with learning difficulties, specifically special needs in areas of vision impairment, hard of hearing, those with cerebral palsy and the physically challenged. The Acting Administrator of the school, Jibrin Dan Ogaji, who is also a director with the State Ministry of Education, disclosed that the school will pilot primary one to six adding that presently the school has JSS one students, who will be groomed and trained in a special way as the name of the school depict.
“ We are practicing the policy on inclusive education in the State aimed at bringing the special needs persons as well as able children together and make them compete and see who is going to be who”. “His Excellency, has gone beyond just establishing this school because there is a connectivity, a synergy between the state government and the America government, specifically a university and International blind school, so there will be exchange of ideas, programmes, visits and others,” he said.
Some of the disabled students,who spoke to our correspondent, thanked the governor for establishing the school, as according to them the school will better their lives. “I am very happy that the governor has established this school for us. It will help us to achieve what we want to achieve in life. I will make sure i listen attentively to my teachers. I wont want this opportunity to pass me by,” Agbo Orume, one of the students said.
Another student, Hajara Adams who stated that she wanted to be a doctor said that the school has opened her mind to new opportunities.
“ I never knew that opportunities like this will come to me. I though I will end up in the street begging but i thank God, it will not be my portion. I thank the governor who made it so,” she said. Before the recent commissioning of the special school, the Nasarawa State Government, had embarked on all inclusive education with the disable persons attending schools with able persons in Dunama Primary School Lafia, Government Science School, Lafia and Government College, Obi.
LEADERSHIP findings shows that the school has over one thousand students and a staff strength of seventy. It was also learnt that the state government will soon recruit more hands to teach in the special school. According to the administrator, the school is strictly for disabled persons, but those who cannot measure up will be trained in the area of skills acquisition, to help them to be self reliant.
The school, a boarding school is equipped with boarding facilities and supported by foreign donors, a university and an international blind school, all in America. In the modern world, where technology and science are making daily demands on man, it will be unexpected that any deserving government will turn its back on education.
Suffice to say education makes the acquiring of enlightenment possible and as such, all citizens including the disabled in the society need to be educated, to expose them to modern times. February, 6, 2018 the President Buhari Muhammed made the dreams of many children with special needs in Nasarawa State a reality by commissioning the school.
Speaking during the commissioning, the president commended the governor for the initiative, as according to him it is tandem with the APC change mantra to bring succour to the less privileged in the society. “The school is a demonstration of our collective ambition to uplift the standard of living of all Nigerians, through social investment policies.
“This school will cater for the deaf, the blind and other physically challenged. Indeed, this is a clear example of our inclusive policy where no child, man or woman will be left behind. “This is a well-thought out initiative to give hope to a key segment of the society that has been ignored and neglected by the previous governments. We must help our disabled to contribute to their development and self-reliance.
“Let me use this opportunity to stress that the change philosophy which precipitated the APC Government will continue to idealize and identify issues that are critical to our socio-economic development with a view to proffering lasting solutions to them,” he said. Also speaking during the commissioning, the minister of education, Adamu Adamu, spoke of the importance of the school while urging other states in the country to emulate the Nasarawa State government.
The efforts of Nasarawa State Government is highly commendable and worthy of emulation by other states. I therefore implore other states to support the Federal Government and key into the policy and implement the strategies for effective and sustainable quality education for people with disabilities in Nigeria” he said. On his part, Governor Al-Makura, stated that the school will cater for the education need of all segment of disabled persons in the state adding that in its quest to ensure inclusiveness in governance, his government have opened vistas of opportunities for the vulnerable members of the society especially the disabled.
“To ensure maximum benefit and inclusiveness, we have made their education free, right from primary to tertiary level. This effort is to remove the burden of educational expenses off the parents of these wonderful children. By
extension, it is aimed at ensuring that children with disability are given equal opportunities and empowered to broaden their vision, develop their talents, creativity and support their full potentials to capacity and to compete favourably with others in all spheres of human endeavours. I dare say that there is always ability in disability.
He explained that the school will be affiliated with world renown centres of excellence for People with Disability like the Gallaudet University and Perkins University, USA amongst others where the children will benefit from intellectual resources and global best practices of seasoned professionals on disability management and education and to also access further opportunities.
“We have also recruited the desired manpower with requisite qualification and disposition to teach in these schools which are also replicated in Gudi and Keffi” he said. The school which is equipped with modern facilities to ease teaching and learning of the children, Nigerians hoped will be situated in other states in the country to help reduce out-of-school children in the country and give a chance for a brighter future to children with special needs.
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