ACCESS TO QUALITY EDUCATION IN NIGERIA FOR PERSONS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS THROUGH EDUCATION FOR ALL (EFA): THE CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS BY
Joel O. Ojigbo
Department of Education Foundations
Federal College of Education, Kano.
The National Policy on Education specifically stipulates that there is need for equality of educational opportunities to all Nigerian children irrespective of any real or imagined disabilities (FGN, 2004). The policy further states that education of children with special needs shall be free at all levels and all necessary facilities that would ensure easy access to quality education shall be provided under Education for All (EFA) initiatives. These statements appear lofty, but their attainment under the present dispensation seems to be a mirage. Already, little or no attention is paid to persons with special needs. Furthermore, there are not enough trained specialist. The implication of this state of affairs in persons with special needs is that they are not adequately provided for. Worst still, the challenge of non-availability of assistive technology and lack of proper funding has hindered access to quality education. This paper therefore examines these trends and further identifies the prospects of the way forward.
Education is an instrument of social mobility, a potent factor in national development and in social engineering. Education is not just the bedrock of any civilization, but it is also, an essential tool for national growth and development. In realization of the important role which education plays as an agent of National development and globalization, there has been agitation for more functional and qualitative education all over the world. This agitation and concern for quality education for all and sundry is reflected in the inauguration of Education for All (EFA) in Jomtein (Thailand) in 1990 and Daker in 2000. The intention was the reduction of illiteracy to the barest minimum by 2015 by world nations and the achievement of item two of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Special needs education as a subsystem of education charged with the responsibility of equalizing educational opportunity for exceptional children is expected to have its fair share of qualitative education for persons with special needs. It is important to note that persons with special needs are exceptional individuals who require access to quality education to suit their peculiar learning needs resulting from their special circumstances. The National Policy on Education (2004) identified and classified persons with special needs as the disabled, the disadvantaged and gifted/talented. UNESCO (1994) has added two new special cases for special needs education. They include children experiencing difficulties in school whether temporary or permanent and those not attending school whatever may be the reason. With these additions, the case load of special needs education has doubled beyond the traditional cases with clinical manifestation (Ozoji, 2009). In the words of Olubela and Olawale (2009), education is a very vital tool for social change and transformation as well as national development – special needs education in the form of quality education, is an interaction strategy purposely set up as an education plan to ameliorate the education needs of persons with special needs. With this qualitative education provision, persons with special needs are integrated into the system to achieve higher educational objectives. In this case, quality education plays a role in the transformation of exceptional persons by making them independent and self – reliant. In Nigeria, access to quality education for persons with special needs has witnessed severed challenges. This paper tries to examine these challenges and prospects of access to quality education for persons with special needs through Education for All (EFA). The Concept of Quality Education in Nigeria
Quality is a slippery concept...
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