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Group makes case for Inclusive Education


Stress imperative of closing knowledge gap

By Nsikan Ikpe

The Inclusive Education and IEP Centre (IEIEPC) has made a case for the need to bridge the knowledge gap in the arena of Inclusive Education in Nigeria.

Speaking at a Workshop for Teachers on Special and Inclusive Education
held in Lagos, recently, the group is tasking schools and the authorities to rise to the challenge in the overall interest of the educational sector in the country.

The Inclusive Education and Individualized Education Plan Centre (IEIEPC), a non-profit organisation, is devoted to advocacy and enlightenment campaigns for inclusion in the educational arena and provides continuous training for teachers, parents, social workers and other stakeholders on issues of inclusive education and special education.

IEIEPC also design and implement Individualized Education Plan for children/persons living with disability in unique ways that improve the quality of life and maximise the learning potentials of persons with special needs.

It was indeed in line with its mandate, that IEIEPC held a Train-the-Trainers workshop on Special and Inclusive Education for teachers of special needs children in Lagos State recently.

A total of fifty teachers drawn from the State’s six education districts as well as some private schools participated in the one-day training that was held at the International Press Centre, Lagos.

The workshop covered such focus areas as best practices for inclusive and special education, effective teaching strategies for inclusive and special education teachers, classroom management strategies for children with special needs and nutrition for special needs children.

Delivering his welcome address, the Director of the Inclusive Education and Individualized Education Plan Centre (IEIEPC) and Convener of the workshop, Mr. Oyeyinka Oluwawumi, said the Workshop was part of coordinated public-private efforts to bridge the knowledge gap and improve the capacity and capability of both special education and regular classroom teachers to facilitate the development of the learning potentials of children with special needs.

Mr. Oluwawumi, while decrying the absence of a standard national plan, also called for a modified inclusive curriculum and Individualized Education Plan design that is capable of guaranteeing a sound future for the concerned children.

“We know that ‘disability is not lack of ability to succeed; it only becomes an inability if necessary tools/aids are not maximized’. It is quite unfortunate that there is no standard plan in most schools in Nigeria, although some consent to using some timetable. But then again, one is obligated to ask what informed the timetable? And if teachers don’t have guides or see good reasons to have a modified curriculum to enable them specially attend to students with disabilities, how on earth do we give these children opportunities to fulfill their dreams and become successful?,” said Mr. Oluwawumi whose only daughter lives with a disability.

In her remarks, an official of the Child Guidance School, Counselling and Special Education Unit in the Lagos State Ministry of Education, Dr. (Mrs) Abolarin Abimbola, said the workshop is critical and supportive of the State’s commitment to giving quality education to children with special needs through capacity development of the teachers.

“We at the Ministry level annually organise a Train-the Trainers workshop for our teachers, but this workshop is expanding the scope to include regular teachers. It also featured a nutritionist who has made us to understand that there are certain foods that affect a child’s ability to learn effectively. I’m very impressed about this, about the quality of the resource persons facilitating discussions. The teachers no doubt are getting value here,” she added.

Also speaking in a lead presentation, a Professor of Special Education at the University of Ibadan, Professor Olufemi Fakolade, called on the participants to recognise the uniqueness and difference in behavioural needs of students in creating effective classroom management strategies.

“Interventions that address behavioural issues must be individualised and implemented with specific behavioural outcomes that meet the unique needs of special education students,”he said.

In her presentation entitled, ‘Nutrition for Special Needs Children’, a nutritionist, Mrs. Ijeoma Ugwu noted that “there is increasing evidence that many children with behavioural problems are sensitive to one or more food components that can negatively impact their behaviour.”

Mrs. Ugwu identified those health conditions which nutrition plays important roles in their management to include Communication Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, ADHD, Learning Disorder, Intellectual Disability and Motor Skill Impairments.

Other facilitators include Dr. John Olusegun Oyundoyin, an Associate Professor of Special Education and Dr. Isaiah Ojo Olugbenga, from the University of Ibadan.

Also participating at the workshop was the President –Wikimedia Nigeria, Mr Olusola Olaniyan who commended the efforts of IEIEPC in adding values to the lives of children with disabilities by training their teachers. He also outlined the need for teachers to also be contributors to knowledge through partnering with the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

Cross section of participants at the event

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