The Minister of State for Education, Dr Yusuf Sununu has urged education stakeholders to desist from rejecting Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in school environments.

Sununu was speaking in Abuja on Tuesday at the Federal Ministry of Education commemoration of the 2023 International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

The Minister was represented by his Special Adviser (Technical), Mrs Clarence Ujam.

The occasion which has the theme, “United In Action To Rescue And Achieve The SDGs For, With, And By Persons With Disabilities”, was in collaboration with the Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment (AGILE) project.

Sununu commended the AGILE programme, for being a drive in championing the cause of PWDs, especially in seeing that persons with disability have a voice.

“Disability as we all know, is a worldwide phenomenon that spans countries, sex, age, religion, race, and social status, economic and political position.

“It is estimated that more than one billion people experience disability worldwide, the majority from developing countries.

“According to the World Health Organisation’s 2011 World Disability Report, there are between 25 million and 27 million disabled persons in Nigeria,” he said.

“The United Nations (2011) projected that one in 10 persons in Nigeria suffers from some form of disability, and that nine out of those with a disability live below the poverty levels,” he said.

Sununu said the ministry had been in the vanguard of championing the course of persons with disability in general and in the area of special education in particular.

According to him, the Ministry has developed the National Policy on Albinism, National Policy on Special Needs Education and the National Policy on Inclusive Education, all with implementation guidelines.
“The 2024-2027 Education Roadmap as well as the Ministerial Deliverables emphasised increase in school enrolment, transition and completion for learners especially those with disabilities.

“Disheartening to note that some people still perceived disability negatively, superstition and ignorance has greatly influenced their attitudes to persons with disability.

“Most of the rights of people with disability are not given to them. These include right to education, medical care, employment and free movement,” Sununu said.

He said findings revealed that the children with disability are rejected from the public schools because of lack of facilities and caregivers.

“This discrimination must stop by the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders,” Sununu said.

Also, the National Coordinator of AGILE project, Mrs Amina Haruna appreciated the roles of PWDs in contributing immensely to the development of education in Nigeria.

Haruna, who was represented by the Deputy National Coordinator of the project, Mrs Abuka Ajanigo, said their contributions further gave credence to
the fact that there is ability in disability.

She therefore thanked the World Bank for its immense support to the course of PWDs in the country.

Also speaking, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Albino Foundation, Mr Jake Epelle said the ministry had worked tirelessly to ensure the country have a revised national policy for inclusive education.

Epelle pledged the commitment of the PWDs community to not just achieve the SDG goals but goals valuable to humanity, children and women with disabilities as well as ensure their rights and values were protected.

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1992 to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.

The day also commemorates the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was adopted in 2006.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities is observed globally on December 3 of every year. (NAN)

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