The Anambra state governor, Willie Obiano, has reiterated his commitment towards the overall welfare and development of the physically challenged persons in the state, through education and vocational skills.
The governor gave the assurance during the state’s celebration of students with disabilities, to mark the 2016 United Nations Universal Children’s Day.
The event took place at Basden Memorial Special Education Center, Isulo, Orumba North local government area of Anambra state.
It was hive of activities, as the government and people of Anambra state dedicated this year’s edition to celebrating students with disabilities.
Obiano promised infrastructural development in all three special education centers across the state, a project that is worth about 100 million Naira.
He also called on everybody in the state, including the private sector organizations, to contribute to making the lives of the special children better.
According to the organisers, the event was a way of showing them that they are as important as other children without any physical challenge.
The special children on the other hand, proved that their disability is not a weakness, but only a challenge.
They performed in the various activities such as singing, dancing, recitations, fashion parade, debate among others.
Before 2014, the Basden Memorial Special Education center was said to have been almost in an abandoned state, with about eighty pupils, until the wife of the governor, Ebelechukwu Obiano, adopted the school.
Through her pet project, the Caring Family Enhancement Initiative, (CAFÉ), as well as with the support of the state government, the entire school was rehabilitated.
She equally called on government at all levels to pay attention to the welfare of the physically challenged persons through education and vocational training.
“Physically challenged children should be encouraged by all governments.
“Anambra state government is already towing the step of making sure that these children are engaged in various activities, particularly going to school just like these people are in school, as well as other trades or vocation to encourage them to bring out that good thing in them,” Mrs Obiano said.
The UNESCO representative, Mr Emmanuel Ejiogu, said according to the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, that strong advocacy should always be made for children and their rights too.
“I want to say this that the United Nations Universal Day offers each of us an inspirational entry point to advocate, promote and celebrate children’s rights, translating them into dialogue and action that would build a better world for them.”
Asides pointing out the challenges facing the special education centers in the state, the state Commissioner For Education, Professor Kate Omenugha, commended the governor for incorporating children with special needs in the scheme of things, through the provision of basic amenities for them.
“It is actually a new event but we are doing it in line with His Excellency’s mandate in education, that no child is to be left behind.
“Your Excellency, you gave free tuition to all the physically challenged in the state. That is one thing you did. Now you have increased the subvention of this school, (Umuchu and Onitsha) and you approved that their subvention be increased from 50,000 Naira to 500,000 Naira.”
Obiano while addressing the people, expressed joy at the turn of events at the Special Education center and pledged commitment to the welfare of the children.
He restated his promise to meet all the challenges enumerated by the education commissioner, while urging all and sundry to support the children everywhere and make their lives better.
Furthermore, he expressed gratitude saying :
“I am quite happy to see the progress these children are making. When we came here two years ago, they had all kinds of challenges of which my wife had already enumerated and the commissioner for education.
“The worst was that even the pupils that passed primary six were forced to continuously repeat the same class not because they did not pass but because they could not go to secondary school and we quickly set up a secondary school and I am happy that we have done that.
“I have listened carefully to the demands read out by the commissioner for education that included teachers’ quarters, electricity, and of course the landscape of this place which we have started among other things.
“These things will not consume up to one hundred million, so we are going to do all of them. And it is not only that we are going to do all of them, we will start them immediately,” he assured.
In addition to the plan to improve the lives of Physically challenged, the governor has absorbed 122 physically challenged graduates into the state civil service.
This came along with an additional special salary package for teachers in the three Special Education Centers.
The event however came to an end with the inspection of a sick bay, donated by a private individual.