ECOWAS, others advocate education rights for disabled, IDPs

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Centre for Democracy Development (CDD), the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) have called for the implementation of rights of disabled and displaced persons to proper and qualitative education.

The groups made this call at an event commemorating the ECOWAS Human Rights Day on Thursday in Abuja.

They lamented the poor and non-accessibility to education for people with disabilities, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), refugees among others.

EduCeleb.com gathered that only 33,603 primary and secondary schools across Nigeria have inclusive provision for persons with disabilities. There have been insubstantial information about the education of displaced persons across the country.

Then, there is not much being done to support such persons despite millions allocated through the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) annually.

Coordinator of West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), Francis Acquah-Aikins Jnr while speaking on the theme of the day; “Rights to Education for Persons with Disabilities, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), Refugees, Returnees and Stateless Person”, said education is beyond accessibility to many children in sub-Sahara Africa.

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“Education should not only be about accessibility but the provision of standard equipment and relevant educational materials for IDPs,” Aikins said.

The Secretary-General of UNOWAS, Muhammed Ibn Chambers, in his submission, reiterated the commitment of his organisation to sustaining human rights obligation, peace and security in West Africa.

Chambers was represented by Melamine Tamba at the event.

Earlier in her welcome address, the Director of CDD, Idayat Hassan, charged the government of ECOWAS members, especially Nigeria to implement the 1960 UNESCO Convention and Recommendation against Discrimination in Education.

Hassan who was represented by Jasper Ugochukwu, a Senior Programme Officer at CDD, called for the transformation of the Special Education Programmes into a more institutionalised National Education Programmes that falls within National and ECOWAS regional standardized curriculum for general education.

Executive Secretary of NHRC, Tony Ojukwu noted the importance of education to the Nigerian Child as provided by the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended.

“Section 17 of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act provides that a person with disability shall have an unfettered right to education without discrimination or segregation of any form” Ojukwu stated.

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He expressed doubt about the commitment of the ECOWAS member-states to observe provisions of the law that provide for the proper education of people with disabilities.

“The question that yearns for an answer is whether these provisions of the law pertaining to the right to education for persons with disabilities, IDPs, Refugees, Returnees and stateless persons are observed and enforced,” he added.

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