By Lawrence Olaoye
lerk of the National Assembly (CNA), Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa, yesterday canvassed for an allocation of a percentage of elective positions in the parliament to the physically challenged persons in the country.
The NASS boss also raised the alarm over the neglect and poor funding of schools for the disabled persons in the country.
Maikasuwa explained that allocating a certain percentage to the physically challenged in the parliament was to enable them get elected into the legislature and push through issues on special education because, ‘he who feels it, knows it better’.
He decried a situation whereby the educational system in the country has not taken a concrete step with regard to the full implementation of inclusive education.
The NASS boss, in his paper titled, ‘The role of National Assembly in Legislating for Special Needs Education’ presented at the 26th annual conference and workshop of Nigeria Association of Special Education Teacher [NASET] in Lafia, Nassarawa state, canvassed for the need for enabling laws to address the ugly situation.
According to him, “the National Assembly has numerous legislations that are geared towards addressing the plight of persons in need for special education”.
He said that such laws may not be directly connected to special needs education but serve as good grounds to redress structural and underlying causes of failures to special needs education in Nigeria.
He however urged the lawmakers to expedite action on over 30 Bills in various stages before them that have direct and indirect bearing on special needs persons or education in the country.
The Clerk of the National Assembly also lamented the underfunding of special education which has resulted in deteriorated structures, insufficient qualified professionals in the field, poor remuneration of teachers, lack of adequate equipment and facilities as well as lack of interest by the general populace on special needs education.
“It is regretable that out of about 117 universities in the country, only universities of Calabar, Ibadan and Jos offer courses in special Education to both undergraduate and post-graduate students”, he added.
He noted that other challenges facing the sector was the poor attitude of enforcing accountability towards better special needs education.
“There is often low priority in enforcing laws and implementation of policies in special needs education and often government statements and pronouncements on special needs education seem not to meet the end result”, he noted.
He therefore stressed that if inclusive education is fully implemented, the negative attitude towards children with special needs would be a thing of the past.
“It would form a link between special and neighbouring schools to harness their relationship thus developing friendships among children with special needs and their peers”, he added.