COVID-19:Persons with disabilities excluded from palliative, shut out by banks in Akwa Ibom
Mr. Ubong Udo, Public Relations Officer, Association of the Blind, Nigeria.

Abasifreke Effiong – Uyo

Nigeria’s Public Relations Officer, National Association of the Blind, Mr Ubong Udo, says children with hearing impairment have been left out in the ongoing school – on – radio programme in Akwa Ibom state.

Udo in a Facebook post on Saturday noted that the radio school like many other programmes of the state government does not cater for all strata of citizens of the state.

“Regrettably children with disabilities are often neglected in educational planning in the state. A case in point is the ongoing school – on – radio where the hearing impaired persons are totally excluded from the scheme.”

Akwa Ibom state government introduced the school – on – radio programme about three weeks ago to serve as an intermediate classroom during the coronavirus lockdown.

RELATED STORY : Akwa Ibom state to start radio school for primary schools next week

Schools are yet to resume because of the ravaging coronavirus pandemic, prompting governments and institutions to set up intermediary schools on new and conventional media.

When The Dune sought to know how children with hearing impairment could be integrated into the programme, Udo, in a telephone conversation recommended that the state government should introduce the school programme on television with a sign language interpreter to cater for the deaf.

Akwa Ibom school on radio programme leaves out deaf children Akwa Ibom state governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel.

“There is no way the deaf can be part of the radio school. The way out is for the government to introduce the programme on television and have a sign language interpreter on the television crew to interpret what the teacher says.”

He regretted that some clusters of persons with disabilities were left out in the sensitization on COVID-19 in Akwa Ibom state.

“There was no sensitization of any kind on COVID-19 for persons with disabilities. That exclusion makes PWDs even more vulnerable to pandemic”, the PRO said.

An NGO working around issues of PWDs, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities, CCD, had recommended the creation of a disability desk at isolation centres in the state to cater for persons with disabilities.

Despite the recommendation, the Akwa Ibom state does not have a representation from any of the clusters of persons with disabilities on the incident management committee on COVID-19.

Following demand to have a representation on the committee by PWDs in the state, The Dune drew the attention of the Commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Udoh who is a member of the incident management committee to the exclusion.

READ : Warri prophet arrested for faking miracles loses N2bn case against police in Delta

The commissioner said, four weeks ago, that he will table the concern before the incident management committee. There has been no feedback yet and government has not made any addition to the committee.

Meanwhile, Mr Ubong Udo has lauded the Akwa Ibom state government for constituting a committee on education, urging the committee to develop an all embracing education road-map for the state which no child would be relegated to the back burner.

He noted that persons with disabilities are usually left behind in education planning.

“According to the state policy on education, basic education is free and compulsory and no Akwa Ibom child should be left behind with regards to access to education. Unfortunately and regrettably too, children with disabilities are often neglected in terms of educational planning in the state.”

“I urge the committee to develop an all embracing education road-map for the state which no Akwa Ibom child would be relegated to the back burner.”

“I suggest the committee should interface with the Joint National Association of Persons With Disabilities to ensure the development of an inclusive and accessible education road map where children with and without disabilities can study side by side in the same school environment”, Udo added.