University of Ilorin.
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has offered its support for people living with special needs in Nigeria and also its commitment to ensuring their digital inclusion in the society in relation to trending ICTs.
The agency which is not only concerned about ICT but also has passion for people living with special needs claimed to have trained and graduated over 350 physically challenged students in digital inclusion, skills and acquisition with the aim of making them stand as trainers of other people who are also less privileged like them.
NITDA which held a conference in collaboration with the Faculty of Communication and Information Sciences of the university on Tuesday at the university auditorium laid out its agenda to support and sponsor people with special needs in the society as a way to include them as participants in the society as every other human being.
The agency managed by the Director General, Dr. Isa Aliu Pantami believes that people born with one disability or the other ought to be referred to as able in contrast to the disability the society tags them with.
The conference was an avenue to raise opinions among stakeholders of the university and outsiders including the Joint Matriculation Board (JAMB) on how to improve special education for physically challenged people in Nigeria.
It was a pre-conference of the one to come up at the US on March 11, 2019 to deliberate on the fate of the physically challenged people around the world and how to support them as said by lead presenter and United Nations Project Manager, Lidwen Meffo.
According to her, she remarked that she was glad to be in Nigeria to discuss issues as such. “It is pertinent to deliberate on issues affecting special education for physically challenged people and to find a way of contributing to its development following technology; hence the reason for this conference today”.
“It is also important to encourage their inclusion in ICT because most special people are socially relegated even to the extent that their families keep hiding them hoping they would die one day and some who are quite lucky to go to school do not even get to attain tertiary institutions. Their disability should not be a handicap”.
Similarly, the Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB) in the administration Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, its registrar and former VC of University of Ilorin showed its support for the movement and disclosed a special opportunity group created for the welfare of the physically challenged during their exams.
It unveiled a special braille provided for visually impaired candidates and assured the audience that the special opportunity group would also facilitate the admission of physically challenged candidates into any federal university as long as they pass their exams.
Co-convener of the conference and representative of the UN, Magna Faith stressed that people with special needs ought to be treated with enough love, care and attention. She gave an example of her first child who was born with autism and how depressed she was at first but took it upon herself to love her daughter and bring her up with all the care she could give.
“The guardians of these special people should not give up on them; they should not be left uncared for. This conference is a great platform to deliberate on the provision of a sustainable plan for the development of the physically challenged people. They are also human beings and they deserve a better chance at life.”
According to Lidwen Meffo, co-convener Magna Faith was one of the main facilitators of the conference as a result for her passion in helping people with special needs and seeing them thrive just like her daughter did and as every other human being. “They do not only need to survive by all means, they need to thrive like every other person in the world”.
In honour of the efforts of the conveners and other stakeholders present, the university presented awards to NITDA, Lidwen Meffo, Magna Faith and JAMB to wrap up the conference.