By Unukere Oboh
Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD, has called for the formulation and implementation of deliberate policies to address the challenges of inclusion of IDP’s, Refugees, Returnees and Stateless Persons in the educational sector plan in Nigeria.
The Director CDD West Africa, Madam Idayat Hassan made the declaration on Thursday at the 2020 ECOWAS Human Right Day organized by the body in Abuja.
Hassan who was represented by Jasper Ukachukwu, said these vulnerable groups, will continue to face serious challenges in their enjoyment of rights to education.
Hassan said the body is seeking the support of the key Duty-bearers in this respect, the Ministries of Education, Humanitarian and Social Affairs in Nigeria to exercise their executive power to come up with dedicated strategic and transformative policies that will create and concretize an institutionalized system, which provides enormous opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, IDP’s, Refugees, Returnees and Stateless Persons to effectively enjoy their right to education.
She added that the realization of this goal is hinged on the availability of adequate budgetary allocation and responsible governance in education social and humanitarian sectors.
“Right to education has been internationally recognized as an overarching right: it is a human right in itself and is indispensable for the exercise of other human rights. A number of international standard-setting instruments, particularly the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance protect the fundamental human right to education.
“This year, the ECOWAS Community is focusing on rights to education for Persons with Disabilities, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), Refugees, Returnees and Stateless Persons, as the theme to be promoted through the year 2020. I wish to commend the ECOWAS Commission for choosing this theme as respect for rights to education to these groups of persons remains neglected in Nigeria, in particular and across the ECOWAS region, in general,” she said.
Hassan enjoined the government to move from the current stop gap policy approaches to a much more direct and sustainable entrenched systems that carter for education in emergency situations.
“There is need for fundamental drive of transformation from Special Education Programs for these classes of community citizens to a much more institutionalized National Education Programmes which are designed to fall within both National and ECOWAS regional standardized curriculum for general education of the entire region.
“People with disabilities, particularly, face specific challenges in the pursuit of their right to education resulting in a reduced access to mainstream education. According to the 2017 report on inclusive education by the World Bank and the Global Partnership for Education, it is noted that though literacy among children with learning disabilities has increased globally, these children remain severely excluded from educational policies and still lag far behind their peers.
“In Nigeria, which has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world, ascertaining the percentage of those with learning disabilities has been difficult as official data is nonexistent. As such, educational plan will most likely not address the needs of those with disabilities,” she said.
In order to ensure equal educational opportunities for all without discrimination or exclusion, CDD stressed the need for a human rights-based approach in the delivery of education in Nigeria. In this regards, CDD urges government of Nigeria to adopt an inclusive dimensions of the right to education, notably through the implementation of the 1960 UNESCO Convention and Recommendation against Discrimination in Education, which provide an international legal framework for the protection of the right to education without discrimination.
According to her, IDPs, Refugees, Returnees, and Stateless Persons, while it is important to stress that the availability and quality of education services vary significantly from one displacement situation to another, what is apparent today in Nigeria is that these group faces significant challenges in exercising their right to education, from infrastructure, capacity and resource constraints to persistent insecurity, social tensions and discrimination.
“Education is all too often treated as a secondary need to be addressed once violence has subsided, but conflicts and the emergencies they cause may last for years or even decades, leaving many displaced children to grow up deprived of education and the protection and support schools provide. This impedes their socioeconomic development, fuelling displacement risk and the potential for future crises.
“Let me also implore National Human Rights Commissions of Nigeria to work in close collaboration with the Education and Humanitarian/Social Affairs Ministries to ensure that they adopt a human right-based approach in delivery of educational service with a view to ensuring effectiveness and accountability in the enjoyment of education service by these groups of citizens,” Hassan said.
Also Speaking, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Human Right Commission, Tony Ojukwu said it was unfortunate that despite the international articles for the protection of the rights of these groups of persons are being enforced by the various authorities.
Ojukwu was of the opinion that its proper implementation will help in correcting the anomalies.