Nasarawa State Government is said to have improved special education and related services in the education system by establishing more special schools. The authorities have also enhanced the abilities of schools to lend a hand to students with disabilities to succeed in classrooms.
In March this year, President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned a special school in Lafia built by the state and it has since inception offered wide-raging services that attracted a large number of students.
In addition to that, the authorities have further revealed plans for the commencement of academic and non-academic activities in two new Comprehensive Special Secondary Schools.
The Commissioner for Special Education, Science and Technology, Professor Jonathan Ayuba, who disclosed this in a chat with newsmen in Lafia, said work on the two schools at Gudi, Akwanga LGA and another in Keffi LGA had already reached advance stage.
He explained that one of the new schools would be a junior secondary while the other would serve as senior school. “The one in Lafia will take care of the primary school section while the other two would be for junior and senior secondary respectively.”
Ayuba also said the ministry was working in collaboration with the Ministry of Education to get all the courses at the three technical colleges in the state accredited, adding:“Some of the courses were given interim accreditation by the National Board for Technical Education and we are putting measures to get full accreditation for all of them.”
He revealed that the government would also upgrade facilities in the technical colleges, train and retrain the manpower for better service delivery, adding that government had already procured the needed equipment and was awaiting their installation for smooth takeoff.
The establishment of the additional schools was greeted with commendation. But there are fears from stakeholders on sustaining the project, presumed to be capital intensive.
Most of the stakeholders agreed that setting up of special schools was not only a bold step in improving student success but the quality of the school system.
An educationist who prefers confidentiality said education is needed for children with disabilities to have hope in societal affairs.
He said the inclusion of technical education and skill acquisition in the syllabus of special schools at the basic level would increase creativity in pupils and enhance their perception of the learning environment and themselves.
He said the schools would prioritize excellence and allow students to discover their potentials. “They would develop the students through best practices, sports as well as technical skills like handcraft. The authorities would take teachers’ welfare serious, he stressed.
He said the schools would tackle the shackles of illiteracy and poverty, eliminate discrimination, eradicate street begging and bring about political, social and economic empowerments.
Another expert said for the schools to sustain success, the state House of Assembly must make laws that would provide sufficient budgetary allocations for them so that subsequent governments would not abandon them for either political or personal interests.
Also, government should create an agency that would supervise the running and management of the schools and not leave them under the ministry.
A social activist also envisaged the need for government to involve various stakeholders in running and funding the schools.
A parent of one of the students in Lafia Special School who gave his name as Malam Mahmoud said the establishment of special schools is one of the best things the government has done to the public but expressed fear over the future of the schools.
“If the next governor of the state does not have the same enthusiasm and concern for the disabled children as this one, our hope to liberate these children will weaken,” he said, adding that the present government should make laws specifically for the schools and make education for the disabled children free and compulsory.
He added that the authorities should endeavour to work with NGOs, philanthropists and faith-based organisations, reputable institutions and multinational bodies that can render support whenever necessary on special education.
Many of the stakeholders maintained that people must change their attitudes toward people living with disabilities and that society must openly show love and support to them.