West African disabled students are currently not separated from other students. This style has raised a lot of concerns, but it appears the format is doing much more good than foreseen. Thus, there is a growing demand for more inclusive education schools in West Africa.
Disability is the state of being impaired with a sense organ or body part. When a person is born with a certain disability, there are evident insecurities and possible discrimination. The United Nations made room for this category of people in their Sustainable developmental goals (SDGs).
According to the UN, one-third of the 60 million population who do not go to school are disabled. All things being equal, the family should be more receptive of these special set of people. Thus the home becomes an inseparable and foremost comfort zone. The UN hopes to promote equal education for disabled people and disability-sensitive school facilities.
“Nations have not been held to account under U.N conventions (on disability rights) but hopefully the SDGs will change that if they do not make progress on inclusive education”- Sandra Boisseau, Inclusive Education Co-ordinator.
Given the importance of education, disabled children are commonly sent to special schools. There, they are at ease with each other since they are all birds of a feather. However, not all go to these special schools. With inclusive education, some others conveniently go to normal schools. These schools must also have the special facilities to facilitate their learning.
Depending on the orientation of the institution, there may be discrimination. Ordinarily the idea of being in a typical school setting as a disabled student raises insecurities. This is because they constantly come in contact with students who are not exactly like them. There is a fear that they may become more downcast than their condition naturally makes them.
Good enough, the reverse is the case. The disabled students who are not sent to special schools have a lot to benefit. It is true there is the temptation of comparing themselves with others but the good news is that they get to be prepared for the larger society.
If all West African disabled students went to special schools, then that would be a time bomb. Many would have the inferiority complex. First they will only be comfortable with people of like challenges. Their communication factor will be based on the common factor of disability. Psychologically that will not be too healthy. Life is not always lived and experienced in a comfort zone.
“At first there were worries and fears, it was an innovation to have all the children together in one class… But when you see disabled children coming out of their shell, working and playing with others – it is joyful.“- Mbaye Sow (West African Teacher)
For this reason, the West African disabled students are mixed up with other students. From there they learn to build their confidence. They learn to freely live with their challenges.
Senegal in particular is a West African country that is devoted to the course of inclusive education. At the moment there are about 50 inclusive education schools. They have provisions for some teachers to travel and home-school disabled children. They have equally extended their sensitization and advocacy to the media.
Another angle of this is that when other students begin to mix up with the challenged, it helps to potentially rid the society of ignorant discriminators. This will be particularly good for countries that see certain disabilities as curses. From that age they learn to welcome people with challenges who come their way.