PROBLEMS WITH AFRICAN MAINSTREAM EDUCATION | INCLUSION.

Inclusive setting

The main question here is, what are the mainstream educational requirement? If any. I know some of you guys will be like ”Its twenty first century there is equal right everywhere”. I am going to disagree with you on this one. In other part of the world ‘yes’ there is, in Africa not so much.

There are several differences regarding the perspectives of inclusion in educational system in developed and developing countries. In developed countries like the United Kingdom and the United States of America, inclusion is common across all platforms (Education, Industries, Employment and so on). 

I will be focusing more on the developing countries as the issues of including people with disabilities in the mainstream educational system is still an issue that is been faced by these individuals. This is not just the issue people with disabilities are facing, others are: in accessing healthcare services, employment and other facilities (banks, home, schools, communities, workplace. etc.).

It’s safe to say ‘’people with disabilities are not allowed to have or access anything in the community or society.

No one is expecting them to achieve anything; they are supposed to be dependent, not independent; they are not expected to live long, talk-less of having a future in the long run, they’re disabled!

Every illiterate in Africa.

the above quote is a catch phrase for people without disabilities and their expecting for those with disability; especially those that has little knowledge on the matter. There was a time when someone asked me,

Why are you studying? You know no one is going to employ you right and besides you may not live long to even witness it

A random stranger

This is what a random stranger said to me at Bayero University Kano, while I was studying BSc Electronic; I’m not the kind of person that take things to heart especially words from stranger. However, at that moment the first thing that comes to mind was to throw a punch or abuse him verbally but this person was taller and definitely stronger than me, so, the best next thing is to ignore him and that’s what I did. Another thing was the look on his face when I drove off, he has no idea who I’m; he just saw me walking out of a lecture theatre next to his and decided to push my buttons. He looked shocked and surprised when he sees a disabled person driving a car. The reason why I’m telling you this is, the problem is not just with lack of inclusion in African educational system but also the lack of awareness about disability in these countries, like Nigeria. Let me review some articles that justified what I’m saying.

First what is inclusive education. Inclusive education involve the elimination, identification, and minimisation of barriers to students with disabilities, participating in traditional settings (i.e., Homes, Schools, workplace, and Communities) – by Mustafa, Mpofu, and Chataika. Inclusive education is not just about eliminating and minimising barriers but also the maximisation of resources to support participation and learning. One of the advantages of inclusive education is allowing families and students with disabilities to participate in regular activities either in schools or in the communities while at the same time meeting their unique needs as well as contributing in the development of schools and communities.

Okay, let’s start with Zimbabwe, a country located in the south-central region of Africa with a population of approximately 14 million, of which about 80% is rural, black African – by CIA. Zimbabwe has a literacy rate of 86.5 % (age 15 and over), about 3 million children are attending schools, with about 300,000 children with disabilities generally. Looking at these values, only 10% of the children who have disabilities are attending schools, that is if all the children with disabilities are attending schools in the country. The Disability Persons Act 1996 and the Zimbabwe Education Act 1996, require that all students regardless of gender, race, religion, and disability should have access to basic education (Up to Grade 7 or Primary 6). Obviously, the Disability Persons Act has not committed to seeing this policy been applied in any concrete way, in fact, it prevents the government from being sued by the people with disabilities and their families regarding government facilities access issues that impair their participation in the community. Personally, these issues are been faced in many African countries. For example;

‘’Inclusion is not a strategy to help people fit into the systems and structures which exist in our societies; it’s about transforming those systems and structures to make it better for everyone. Inclusion is about creating a better world for everyone.’’

Diane Richler

In the absence of any form of mandatory policy to aid in the provision services, there would be no meaningful educational services for students with disabilities. The requirement for open access to education doesn’t extend to high school or university, perhaps because the government considers literacy as achievable by grade 7 and high school or university education is a privilege, rather than a right. High schools and universities have the right to reject your admission because of your disability as the law only applies to grade preschoolers alone. At least that’s how the school boards see it.

Families and parents play a vital role in child life especially if the child has a disability. In Nigeria and Zimbabwe, the involvement of family in children’s education varies by the inclusive educational option available to them, the type of disability, the family’s socioeconomic status and the nature of the parent-child relationship. In the rural regions of most African countries, grandparents often are better advocates for the grandchildren with disabilities than their biological parents, because they’re likely to raise the children at rural homestead while their biological parents are working in the cities.

In unplanned inclusive education, the parents or guardian have little involvement in the curriculum and classroom practices beyond enrollment of their children at the local school. The lack of educational plans for students with disabilities impedes parents from involving in their children’s education. For children with severe disabilities or chronic disease, the quality of life in unplanned inclusive education is significantly lower than that of the developing peers, due to lack of recognition of their unique needs, including associated medical conditions that require monitoring by the teachers. 

Most African countries haven’t achieved much in terms of inclusion except for South Africa and few nations. In West Africa, children with disabilities, particularly those with intellectual and developmental disabilities are essentially invisible in most African societies. Many of them don’t survive beyond the age of 5; if they do, their families may leave them to either fend for themselves or abandon them to care of orphanages and institutions -by Mojdeh.

In Nigeria, most people with disabilities can be seen on the street begging for alms, they are either forced by the parents or where abandon to care for themselves; as Nigerian care homes don’t serve their purpose. The care homes are like prisons, people with disabilities aren’t been taken care off; apart from occasional feeding the don’t do anything, like education or frequent medical check-up except when extremely sick.

Kar2na

Only a few state-funded institutions for children with disabilities can be found in African countries. By and large, non-governmental organisations and private religious charities run the available needs programs. These programs usually have multiple health or education missions, and not necessarily focus on the education of children with special needs or disabilities. In most institutions, often, children with disabilities receive a minimal type of care, such as being fed and dressed but are otherwise left alone and ignored educationally. To make matters worse, in certain regions of Africa, children with disabilities are at risk of been abused, stigmatised and discriminated on a daily basis.

The odds of coming across a person with a disability in either private or government school in Nigeria is 1 in 20; as they’re being denied admission or the disabled person decided to quit school because of extreme stigma, discrimination and bullying the perceive from other students or teachers.

Kar2na

The reason why I’m discussing this issue is, even with all the development and awareness about disabilities in developed countries; African leaders are reluctant to act and address the issue on this matter. Hundreds of people with disabilities are been victims of hit and runs and hundreds die every year due to car accidents because of them begging for alms on the streets particularly in the northern part of Nigeria. There are little to no research on this matter in Nigeria, generally, only few research were conducted in Africa on inclusion. There is a need for more research on this matter which will help to bring more awareness on disability and eliminate the segregation and isolation of people with disabilities in the developing nations like Nigeria.

If you’ve any question on the matter discussed above leave it in the comment section, I’ll be happy to address it. Share it with friends and family let’s start the awareness campaign from here and now. People with disabilities require equal rights and should be allowed in the mainstream settings.

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