Nigeria News
N’ Assembly to pass 31 special education bills -Clerk

The Clerk to the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa, said on Wednesday that 31 bills to better the lives and education of persons with special needs were undergoing passage by the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The Clerk said among the bills were “National Centre for Research, Management and Control of Autism/Down Syndrome‎”; “Gender Equal Opportunities Abuse and Administration Bill”; “Sickle Cell Disease (Prevention, Control and Management) Bill”; and “Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Bill.”

Maikasuwa stated that the discrimination against persons with disabilities bill had already been passed.

The Clerk was speaking at the 26th Annual Conference and Workshop of Nigeria Association of Special Education Teachers held in Lafia, Nasarawa State.

Presenting a paper, “The Role of the National Assembly in Legislating for Special Needs Education,” Maikasuwa‎ told the session that some of the bills would help tackle the challenges persons with special needs faced in Nigeria.

He explained that physically-challenged persons in particular would be most touched by the bills.

“The National Assembly has numerous legislation that are geared towards‎ addressing the plight of persons in need for special education.

“Such laws may not be directly connected to special needs education but serve as good grounds to redress structural and underlying causes of failures to special needs education in Nigeria,” he added.

However, he observed that making legislation by the National Assembly without implementation by the relevant agencies of government would still not address the issues.

The Clerk cited funding as one of the major setbacks for achieving the objectives of the laws.

For example, he told the teachers that the education sector received less than 9 per cent of the Federal Government’s annual budget.

Out of the figure, Maikasuwa said a meagre 2 per cent was earmarked for special needs education.

He spoke further, “The present budgetary allocation to education by the Federal Government has been less than ‎9 per cent out of which only 2 per cent is allocated to special needs education.

“This is grossly inadequate but the legislature is struggling to do more than this, despite competing demands from different sectors of the society and the phenomenon of the envelope practice.”

According to him, inadequate funding has led to “deteriorated structures, insufficient qualified professionals in the field, poor‎ remuneration of teachers and lack of adequate equipment/facilities.”

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