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INCLUSIVE EDUCATION: ICAD organizes Open Theatre Performance To Enhance Inclusion of PWDs In Kaduna State University

A nonprofit organization known as Initiative for Creatives Arts and Development for Disability (ICAD) has taken centre stage to organize open theatre performance to promote inclusive education in Kaduna State University.

Yusuf Shamagana, Co-Founder/Senior Program Officer in a statement sent to The Qualitative Magazine said that “Globally, there have been renewed calls for quality education in line with the commitment of Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4). At the centre of this commitment is to ensure that there is a universal access to education for all; especially, by those who are on the fringes of the society. This is informed by the fact that given the gross social and economic disparities that appear to be widening by the day, there are disadvantaged populations that may perpetually be excluded from accessing education unless conscious steps are taken to jettison that”.

He also said that among these populations are persons with disabilities.

“Persons with disabilities are often been denied access to education in Nigeria for a number of reasons, chief among which is the general attitudes of many members of the society towards disability. Some of these negative attitudes seem to inform the assumption that once your child has a disability, it means that your family may have been under a curse, or something” he added.

Performance by Persons With Disabilities at the Event

“As such, a key option available to you is to seek either medical or spiritual help to address that disability. Another negative attitude is the stereotypical association of disability with begging or charity, and so on and so forth. This anti-disability posturing of our society makes it hard for persons with disabilities who have dared to brave the odds and enrolled in school to be effectively integrated and included into mainstream academic and social activities, especially in tertiary institutions” he informed.

“It is in a bid to contribute in mitigating this problem that the Enabling Campuses Project (Encamp) which is the brainchild of Initiative for Creatives Arts and Development for Disability (ICAD) was conceived”.

“ICAD is a not-for-profit organisation that was incorporated in 2022 with the sole mandate of using the creative arts to advocate for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in mainstream development agenda. The Enabling Campuses Project in Kaduna State University (#encampkasu) started in August 2023 under the auspieces of a 400 Level Theatre Arts course entitled: Theatre for Development (THA 408). As the title of the course suggests, it requires the students to deploy theatre in engaging marginal or disadvantaged communities in a participatory theatrical process, with the aim of working together to identify, and possibly seek ways of addressing some of the pressing challenges that confront them. So, in this case, in line with the popular saying “charity begins at home”, the students and this writer who is the coordinator of the course, decided to take on issues of disability exclusion in the university. A typical Theatre for Development (TfD) process follows these methodological steps: advocacy; community research; scenario development; rehearsals; performance; post-performance discussions, and follow-up visits” he informed.

He narrated that the advocacy stage of Encamp KASU took place in the office of the course coordinator (Senior Program Officer) where he intimated the intention of the Project to the Disability Desk Officer of the University, Dr. Zainab Yusuf. She welcomed the idea as an innovative initiative, and even went further and met the 400 Level Theatre Arts students where she assured them of her support. Having settled this, the step that followed saw the Theatre Arts students engaging with students with disabilities who were drawn from different departments in the university. The result of this engagement was the sharing of moving stories of exclusion by the students with disabilities. It was the harvest of these stories that led to the third stage where those stories were developed into dramatic scenarios. These scenarios were rehearsed by the team of Theatre Arts students and students with disabilities. Having perfected the scenarios, a day for the performance was fixed: 5/8/2023.

“The performance is a collection of about four stories touching on issues of negative attitudes of lecturers and other students without disabilities towards students with disabilities; difficulties encountered by students with disabilities in accessing hostel accommodation, lecture theatres, performance theatres and libraries; difficulties encountered by students with disabilities during registration processes, and so on. These different stories were creatively connected by a “sankira”, a joker-narrator and commentator who occasionally interjected to highlight the seriousness of the issues being raised, but in a humourous way. For over forty minutes, the audience was held spell-bound by the performance and by the time it came to an end, it was as if it was just starting” he added.

Dignitaries at the event

The gathering was graced by the Vice Chancellor of Kaduna State Univeristy, Prof. Abdullahi I. Musa; the Registrar; the Disability Desk Officer; Provost, College of Arts, Education, and Law; Dean, Faculty of Arts; Deputy Dean, Faculty of Arts; HOD, English and Drama, other members of staff and students.
After the performance, the Vice Chancellor expressed his delight over what he witnessed, and assured the students; especially students with disabilities present, that all the issues that were raised in the performance will be addressed.

In order to demonstrate his seriousness, the VC gave a marching order to the Disability Desk Officer to produce tangible results in the next three months. This, arguably, was the highest point and the most important moment of this august gathering.

“For the students of Theatre Arts, it was a moment of pride that their little efforts were beginning to make impact at a speed they didn’t envisage. Some are beginning to contemplate building a career that is tilted towards the service of disadvantaged populations in not only our country, but the world at large”.

“For the students with disabilities, the performance gave them the platform to articulate themselves as their voices are usually drowned by ableist biases. At the end of the day, it turned out that the performance, nay, Encamp KASU is an effort in pursuit of SDG 4 (Quality Education) and 10 (Reduced Inequality)”.

“For us at ICAD, the experience of Encamp KASU is a testimony to the potentials of creative arts to alter the status quo to the advantage of students with disabilities. This has inspired us to work harder and spread our tentacles more until the flag of truly inclusive education is hoisted in all tertiary institutions in Nigeria” he concluded.

For Partnership And Support, Please Reach Out To:

Yusuf Shamagana
Co-Founder/Senior Program Officer,
Initiative for Creative Arts and Development for Disability (ICAD);
Head, Theatre Arts Section,
Kaduna State University, Kaduna- Nigeria
Email: org.info.icad@gmail.com
Mobile: +2348034410982



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