The centre for Infrastructural and Technological Advancement for the Blind (CITAB), has called on the Ogun State government to include students with visual impairment in the plan for free internet service for e-learning purposes in the state.
This was contained in a press release issued on Tuesday by the group’s executive chairman, Jolomi George Fenemigho. It would be recalled that the governor of Ogun state, Dapo Abiodun, recently announced the governments partnership with telecommunication service providers to provide free internet services for e-learning to primary and secondary students in the state.
The chairman expressed his utmost disappointment at the rate students with visual impairment are repeatedly excluded and segregated from such academic progress and demands total inclusion and participation of the visually impaired students in the state.
According to him, “though the initiative is laudable, but visually impaired students are conveniently left out of such plans, for instance, how can the Ogun state government claim to launch an e-learning digital class which no visually impaired student is aware of is quite unacceptable for a state that claims to run an all-inclusive education.”
He further spoke on the importance of inclusion and its benefits and urges governor Abiodun to prioritize the needs of the visually impaired students.
According to him, “utmost priority is to be given to the visually impaired students, for if these set of students are taught in an accessible environment and are given the right tools to learn, they would excel to a point where they would even meet up academically with their fellow sighted colleagues at school, yet I don’t understand the reluctance of those in the corridors of power.”
Fenemigho further spoke on the unavailability of accessible gadgets or devices to enable students with visual impairment access e-learning platforms and materials.
He said: “aside from the e-learning platform and materials being accessible for visually impaired students, these students need speech enabled devices such as laptops, smart phones, braille or speech note takers and tablets to interface with the materials provided by learning software applications, learning management systems (LMS) such as Canvas and normal e-learning websites.”
He further advocated for the establishment of a special committee with in the state ministry of education that would supervise the welfare of all disabled students; especially the visually impaired and hearing impaired students in the state and also bring anyone to book that are hording learning opportunities, materials and equipment/devices; that are meant for the disabled students.
According to him, “don’t just make such declarations to the public without setting up gate keepers to monitor the educational welfare of the disabled, this is not done and this is a common mistake majority of our leaders make, which has never benefitted the disabled and this is why it is important for the government to appoint members of a committee that would monitor the affairs of the disabled students and report directly to the governor.”
In conclusion, the CITAB boss urges the Ogun state government to stand by the visually impaired students by always doing the needful to improve their academics and also employ other states in Nigeria to tread the same path.