A Professor of Intellectual Disability, Prof. Julia Tolulope Eni-Olorunda, has called on the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, ensure that the Discrimination Against Persons With Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, which has been signed into law, is fully implemented in order for children with intellectual disability to have an enabling environment to live independently and enjoy their rights to education.
Prof Eni-Olirunda made the call while delivering the 74th Inaugural Lecture of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, FUNAAB, Ogun State, titled: ‘They Are Humans Too: Give Them A Chance,’ held at the Oluwafemi Balogun Ceremonial Building of the university.
The don tasked the government to invest in the education of persons with intellectual disability, to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Developmental Goal 4, which focuses on inclusive, equitable, quality education and promotion of lifestyle learning opportunities.
She added that people with intellectual disability “currently constitute a sizeable number of the population and they cannot be continuously ignored.”
Explaining that training individuals with intellectual disability “is quite cumbersome and will require a lot of human and material resources, hence the need for adequate budgetary allocation to be made a priority for special education, which also serves persons with intellectual disability,” Prof. Eni-Olorunda added that “inclusive education is what is practiced in majority of the developed countries, and Nigeria should not be an exception in this global move. Thus, to achieve this, public enlightenment would go a long way in dispelling the myths and conceptions, which have remained major barriers in recognising children associated with intellectual disability.”
The Inaugural Lecturer, who is of the Department of Home Science and Management, College of Food Science and Human Ecology, COLFHEC, of FUNAAB, charged parents and society at large to love, understand, and accept these children with intellectual disability as human beings that have no control over their disability, stressing that acceptance by parents and society would help them adjust emotionally, psychologically and socially, thereby helping them live independent lives; saying that without love, our society would continue to take undue advantage of them.
She said, “Presently, Child Development and Family Studies Unit of the Department of Home Science and Management of FUNAAB offers courses on developmental disabilities at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels; and this had helped our students have a good knowledge of developmental disabilities and changed their perception and orientation towards these individuals.”
The Inaugural Lecturer called on the National Universities Commission, NUC, in conjunction with FUNAAB, to consider introducing elements of special education into its general studies programme to afford the student population in general the opportunity to have adequate knowledge on disabilities, its causes, and preventive measures as being done in most universities in the country.