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 services for e-learning purposes in the State.
The above was contained in a press release issued on Tuesday by the group’s executive chairman, Jolomi George Fenemigho and signed by the media officer, CITAB, Bassey, Victoria George.
It could be recalled that the Governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, recently announced the Government’s partnership with telecommunication service providers to provide free internet services for e-learning to primary and secondary school students in the State.
The chairman expressed utmost disappointment at the rate at students with visual impairments are repeatedly excluded and segregated from such academic initiatives.
He therefore demanded total inclusion and participation of visually impaired students in the State’s educational system.
According to him, “the initiative is laudable, but visually impaired students are conveniently left out. For instance, how can the Ogun State Government claim to launch an e-learning digital class which no visually impaired student is aware of? Such is unacceptable in a state that claims to run an all-inclusive education.”
He further spoke on the importance of inclusion and its benefits, urging Governor Abiodun to prioritize the needs of visually impaired students.
According to him, “utmost priority is to be given to the visually impaired students. If this set of students are taught in an accessible environment and given the right tools to learn, they can excel to a point where they hold their own against their sighted colleagues at school. It’s hard to understand the reluctance of those in the corridors of power to act on this legitimate need.”
Fenemigho further spoke on the unavailability of accessible gadgets and devices to enable students with visual impairment access e-learning platforms and materials.
He said: “aside the e-learning platform and materials being accessible for visually impaired students, these students also need speech enabled devices like 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 within the State’s Ministry of Education, which would supervise the welfare of all disabled students; especially visually impaired and hearing impaired students in the State. The same committee is to be empowered to bring to book anyone hoarding learning opportunities, materials, equipment/devices etc, that are meant for students with Disabilitiess.
Mr. Fenemigo added, “don’t just make declarations to the public without setting up gate keepers to enforce and monitor the educational welfare of the disabled. This is not done, it is a common mistake majority of our leaders make which has never benefited the disabled. It is therefore important that the Government appoint members of a Committee that would monitor the affairs of students with Disabilities and report directly to the Governor.”
The CITAB boss urged the Ogun State Government to support Visually Impaired students by doing everything needful to improve their academic performance. Meanwhile, he also charged other States in Nigeria to tread the same path.