As the world marks this year’s International Day of Persons with Disability (PWDs), ActionAid Nigeria (AAN) has called on Governments to invest more in infrastructure and public services that meet the needs of PWDs.
The organization, in a Press Statement issued to commemorate this special day with a theme “Leadership and Participation of persons with disabilities towards an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.” said this special day is set aside to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic, and cultural life.
Speaking in Abuja, the Country Director, Ene Obi said “ActionAid has been working on disability issues prior to 2015 when world leaders committed to achieving SDG4 to deliver equitable, inclusive, and quality education for all by 2030. ActionAid Nigeria’s evidence-based approach to work over the years showcases challenges faced by Persons with Disability, one of which is the disability and gender gaps impacting on their participation in all spheres of life.
“The research revealed a broader exclusion for women who are subjected to harmful stereotypes. This means that whatever the challenge faced by Persons with Disability, women with disability suffer more and are subjected to double discrimination. Poverty and other challenges of exclusion undermine their dignity and places barriers of exclusion in the society”.
This is the same for children with disability in Nigeria. ActionAid’s research on Inclusive education shows that 95.5% of children with disability are out of school because of their non-enrollment due to their condition. Those who enroll, are less likely to complete their education compared to their peers; this is associated with over-crowded classrooms, inaccessible learning environment, lack of facilities to support their learning as teachers are unable to give them the required support. These have huge impact on their ability to participate in leadership and overall development of the country.
Despite progress made in ratifying the Policy on Inclusive Education in Nigeria, current education resources are insufficient to achieve inclusive education; only two percent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund to the Universal Basic Education Commission is provided for special needs. Budgets and plans are not sensitive enough to support inclusion which makes financing inclusive education very difficult.
The research by ActionAid and partners further revealed that Nigeria lacks the teacher workforce required to deliver inclusive education as they have not received sufficient training to practice inclusion in addition to inadequate fund to purchase the necessary technological materials. Just 20% of $8.3 billion dollars lost to unnecessary tax incentive in Nigeria could pay for the recruitment and renumeration of estimated deficit of 790,422 primary school teachers required in the country.
ActionAid Nigeria commends the Federal Government on the establishment of the National Commission for Persons with Disability (NCPWD) and call for more investment in infrastructure and public services that account for the needs of this teeming population, and by extension, everybody’s need. Governments should ensure that PWDs participate equally and meaningfully in all processes; designing, legislating and budgeting for city planning and public transport.
“ActionAid Nigeria urges governments to leverage on additional revenue by closing tax loopholes and limiting unnecessary tax incentives to provide disability friendly public services including public transport. We call on state governments to expedite action in domesticating the Disability Commission as further delay will amount to great injustice especially at a time when the world is battling COVID-19, one of the most lethal pandemics in the history of mankind.
With less than 10 years for attaining the 2030 SDGs, it is crucial that the Federal Government take concrete actions to honor the UN commitments and mobilize all available resources to deliver on SDG4 thereby ensuring no child is left behind especially at a time when the world is dealing with a pandemic. As the federal and state government work on the 2022 Appropriation Bill, we remind them that there is still an opportunity to ensure that the budget is sensitive to address disability challenges in the country especially for the education sector.
ActionAid will continue to work with PWDs to advocate for the rights, push for their inclusion, support the development of policies and budget for inclusive education”. Ene added.