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NCPWD Chief, Dr. James Lalu Laments Denial of Inclusive Education for Children with Disabilities

Abuja, 19th June 2024 — The pressing issue of educational exclusion for children with disabilities in Nigeria was forcefully highlighted today by Dr. James David Lalu, the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Persons With Disabilities (NCPWD). Speaking at the 2024 International Day of the African Child commemoration in Abuja, Dr. Lalu lamented the persistent denial of good and inclusive education to children with disabilities, calling for urgent and concerted action from all societal sectors.

In his impassioned speech, Dr. Lalu emphasized the multifaceted barriers that children with disabilities face, which hinder their access to quality education. “Children with disabilities such as polio, blindness, deafness, and more are yet to fully enjoy inclusive education in our society,” he asserted. “Most children with disabilities are discriminated against by their peers, and most sadly within their family circles. Therefore, I enjoin parents and guardians to pay attention to the untold challenges facing their wards with disabilities.”

Dr. Lalu’s poignant observations came against the backdrop of the day’s theme, “Education of the African Child, the Time is Now,” which he described as highly relevant and a call to practical action towards achieving a holistic inclusive society. Despite ongoing awareness efforts by the Commission and its partners, the exclusion of children with disabilities remains a stark reality. He urged all stakeholders to galvanize support for these vulnerable groups, aiming to integrate them fully into educational systems and enable them to aspire to enviable heights.

The event featured notable speakers who further enriched the discussion with critical insights on child development and education. Dr. Osita Okonkwo, Country Director of Nutrition International, underscored the importance of balanced diets in the formative years of the African child. He described the biological processes facilitated by proper nutrition as essential to the cognitive and physical development of children. “Mothers should ensure exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child’s life to develop strong immunity against infections and diseases,” Dr. Okonkwo advised.

Dr. Okonkwo’s remarks highlighted the link between nutrition and educational performance, suggesting that well-nourished children are better equipped to succeed academically. His call for a national dialogue on child nutrition from birth to age five resonated strongly with the audience, emphasizing the need for an integrated approach to child development.

Adding to the discourse, Dr. Yetunde Adeniji, Senior Special Assistant to the President on School Feeding, reaffirmed the Federal Government’s commitment to ensuring that children receive the necessary nutritional support. “A well-nourished child is a child who can flourish in life,” she stated, reinforcing the administration’s resolve to collaborate with stakeholders in enhancing the nutritional value provided to students in schools across the nation.

The event, organized by the African Scholars Care Initiative, also featured engaging activities such as quiz competitions among public primary schools in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), showcasing the talents and intellectual potential of young students.

As the discussions concluded, the call to action was clear: to dismantle the barriers preventing children with disabilities from accessing inclusive education and to ensure that every African child, regardless of their physical or cognitive abilities, has the opportunity to thrive. Dr. Lalu’s lamentation is a stark reminder that despite progress, significant challenges remain. It is a rallying cry for all stakeholders to double their efforts in fostering an environment where every child can receive a quality education and realize their full potential.

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