EDUCATING PHYSICALLY DISABLED PEOPLE: PROBLEMS AND OPPORTUNITIES
The phrase physically challenged people is an emotive definition of disabled people. To eliminate discrimination and stigmatization through language, it has entered common parlance today to refer to the disabled as physically challenged. For the purposes of this study, however, the terms will be used interchangeably to refer to the same situation.
Disability refers to a broad range of physical deformities caused by accidents, illness, or birth conditions that result in a partial or total compromise of a body organ. According to the Oxford Dictionary (2006), disability is a physical or mental condition in which the sufferer is unable to use a part of his or her body completely or, in the case of mental impairment, the person is unable to learn easily.
Although referring to these people as disabled is grammatically correct, it may be more sympathetic to refer to them as physically challenged people. This state is associated with a number of conditions, including:
i. Blindness: a partial or total loss of sight function
ii. Deafness and hearing impairment, either partial or total
iii. Dumbness with partial total impairment
iv. Alitism with partial mental impairment
v. Crippled legs and a variety of related conditions
Every physically challenged person has the same basic rights as the rest of society. They are protected by laws and treaties from all forms of discrimination. As a result, they can aspire to any sphere of human achievement in terms of principles. Out of a total estimated population of 140 million, approximately 25 million Nigerians are estimated to be disabled.
According to research, the literacy rates of people with disabilities in Nigeria are significantly lower than those of the general population for both men and women. As a signatory to various declarations and treaties issued by the United Nations and the United Nations Educational Scientific Organization (UNESCO), the rights of disabled people are enshrined, particularly in education.
It is important to note that physically challenged people come from all walks of life; there are disabled children and adults, as well as disabled men and women. The disabled child is protected by various United Nations charters. The Declaration on the Rights of the Child is one such declaration.
As a child, the disabled… has the right to an education that is free and compulsory at least in the elementary stages… he has the right to an education that promotes his general culture and allows him, on an equal basis, to develop his abilities, individual judgment, and sense of moral and social responsibility, and to become a useful member of society (UN, 1959).
According to the UNESCO Declaration on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (1960), “parties to the convention agree that education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights, it shall promote understanding, tolerance, and friendship among all nations, and it shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.” In light of these findings, it is worthwhile to investigate the access to education of the physically challenged in Edo State’s Oredo Local Government Area, where sightings of destitute physically challenged people are common.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Despite strong international legislation and treaties for the disabled, as well as the Nigerian constitution’s protection of disabled rights. The number of disabled people who are homeless is concerning. It is little surprise that physically challenged people are left to beg for a living after unsuccessful attempts to integrate into society in a society where the able bodied are in fierce competition for scarce resources in a country described by all development indices as poor.
It has been observed that there are a number of disabled people in Benin city at a time when they should be in school. It has also been observed that the government does not make special provisions for special education that take into account the needs of the disabled.
It is also clear that where the disabled do attend schools, the facilities are dilapidated, and in many cases, they mix with other able-bodied students because school administrators do not give them special attention. Much of the assistance provided to the physically challenged has come from non-governmental organizations, which are essentially performing acts of charity that are difficult to sustain.
QUESTIONS FOR RESEARCH
This investigation generated the following research questions:
1. What is the status of disabled students’ access to education in Oredo LGA, Edo State?
2. What factors influence the disabled’s access to education in Oredo LGA?
3. What factors must be in place to encourage greater accessibility of education for the disabled?
The study’s goal is to look into the access to education of the physically challenged in Oredo LGA, Edo State.
i. Determine the level of access to education for the physically challenged in the identified study area.
ii. To the factors that affect the physically challenged in terms of access to education.
iii. To make recommendations for improvements in the research area.
THE STUDY’S JUSTIFICATION
The study’s findings will help to provide answers to the research questions raised as well as fill a gap in policy enactment by the government. The findings will be useful to all stakeholders in society, particularly in the study area, and can be generalized to all parts of Nigeria. Finally, it will enrich research in the area of interest by filling a gap in future research.
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