© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
ECOWAS, CDD, UNOWAS, NHRC advocate right to education for disabled, displaced persons
THE Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Centre for Democracy Development (CDD), the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) have called for the implementation of rights of disabled and displaced persons to proper and qualitative education.
The group made this call at an event commemorating ECOWAS Human Rights Day. They lamented the poor and non-accessibility to education for people with disabilities, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), refugees among others.
The ICIR had in 2017 investigated how schools for persons with physical challenges, including Down Syndrome were on the verge of collapse despite N10 billion naira grant from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) within a period of 10 years.
The investigation revealed how schools situated in the Federal Capital Territory, Nasarawa, Edo and Anambra states lacked proper amenities to provide proper education to disabled persons.
Coordinator of West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), Francis Acquah-Aikins Jnr while speaking on the theme of the day; Rights to Education for Persons with Disabilities, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), Refugees, Returnees and Stateless Person, said education is beyond accessibility to many children in sub-Sahara Africa.
“Education should not only be about accessibility but the provision of standard equipment and relevant educational materials for IDPs,” Aikins said.
Speaking at the celebration, Melamine Tamba, a Special Representative of the Secretary-General of UNOWAS, Ibn Chambas, reiterated the commitment of UNOWAS to sustain human rights obligation, peace and security in West Africa.
Idayat Hassan, the Director of CDD, in her welcome address, charged the government of ECOWAS members, especially Nigeria to implement the 1960 UNESCO Convention and Recommendation against Discrimination in Education.
Hassan who was represented by Jasper Ugochukwu, a Senior Programme Officer at CDD, called for the transformation of the Special Education Programs into a more institutionalized National Education Programmes that falls within National and ECOWAS regional standardized curriculum for general education.
Executive Secretary of NHRC, Tony Ojukwu noted the importance of education to the Nigerian Child as provided by the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended.
“Section 17 of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) provides that a person with disability shall have an unfettered right to education without discrimination or segregation of any form” Ojukwu stated.
He expressed doubt about the commitment of the ECOWAS member-states to observe provisions of the law that provide for the proper education of people with disabilities.
“The question that yearns for an answer is whether these provisions of the law pertaining to the right to education for persons with disabilities, IDPs, Refugees, Returnees and stateless persons are observed and enforced,” he lamented.