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Inclusive Education, Inclusive Society For All 

By Bouddih Adams

The Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, which grew from the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, cannot be attained if people living with disabilities, PLWDs, are not included in all segments of society.

The blind, the deaf and dumb, the physically challenged and people with other disabilities are part of society, and, like women and youths, deserve equal opportunities and equity.

PLWDs should not be marginalised or stigmatised. After training in specialised centres, children with disabilities have to be put into regular and normal schools and be educated like other young people.

Families keeping persons with Down syndrome and other abnormalities behind lock-and-key should be charged with human rights abuse.

Our findings show that homes of members of ‘high society’; like Bastos in Yaounde, Bonapriso in Douala and homes of rich or highly placed, keep such members of their families out of view of guests or visitors.

Parliament should legislate on this which is practised mostly by rich and successful persons who see such members of their families as a disgrace.

It is not of such children’s making that they are born that way, hence they should not be punished for it.

Our findings also show that the disabled children or people seen in the streets and road junctions begging are mostly from poor homes. The ones from rich or well-to-do homes are kept away from the public.

The advantage those in the streets have is that they are exposed and interact with the public and can be offered the opportunity to realise they are different, plus, people of good will might provide them succour.

But the Cameroonian society lacks specialised teachers or teachers who have earned special education.

The Erasmus Mundus programme for special education is a laudable initiative for the training of teachers to carter for children with special needs.

Disability Not Inability

People with disabilities are people with other abilities, for instance, persons with Down syndrome are generally very good in performing arts.

In Buea, Benjamin, popularly known as Benjy only has to watch the video of an artist in any genre of music and his or her dancers perform, and would mimic the dance styles with exactitude.

Blind, lame, deaf and dumb people should be absorbed into the performing arts industry and given the roles to play.

The blind should act the part of the blind in movies, the lame the part of the lame, the deaf and dumb the part of the deaf and dumb, and so on.

For normal people acting these parts and simulating these people with disabilities, is tantamount to taking what is theirs from them.

The fact that some of us were created with fine and equal parts and with all our senses intact, yet we take the place of those deprived of, is being ungrateful.

The Nigerian movie industry should be commended for their inclusive drive towards dwarfs. The dwarfs have demonstrated their talents and are some of the best actors in movies.

Thus, the blind, the deaf and people with other disabilities should also be taken to act in drama and movies that have something to do with their status.

Cameroon and many other countries should borrow a leaf from the Nigerian Film Industry which has produced the famous dwarfs, Aki & Pawpaw, who are now stars and very rich.

Another commendable thing about Nigerian movies it that, unlike most ‘action’ films or films that are dominated by action, Nigerian films are mostly dominated by dialogue which can enable the blind ‘watch’ (listen) and enjoy movies.

PLWDs Also Got Talents

Charles Ringyu Nyugap is blind, but he is a lecturer at the University of Buea, currently a PhD candidate near completion in Special Education, Department of Educational Psychology, Faculty of Education.

In 2013, the best journalism club student in Bilingual Grammar School Molyko, Buea, was a blind student. In 2013, the Bulu Centre for the Blind had the best pianist and singer at the same time.

Blind musician, Prince Aime’s hit song, “Vivian”, does not leave anyone indifferent. The music of blind African-American, Stevie Wonder, moves a lot of people.

One of the most positive and witty contributors to CRTV National Station’s cherished programme, Morning Safari, is the famous Good Old Patrick – a blind telephone operator.

What is referred to as God’s ‘balancing act’ is even more manifest in some of these persons – the other senses are abnormally sharper. For instance, you may blow a vuvuzela near a deaf and dumb, he will not hear; but if you stamp your feet on the ground, he or she would feel it and turn towards you.

People with disabilities are most often very devoted to their job, if offered one. They don’t leave their jobsites for stroll like their physically normal counterparts would and do the job to the best of their ability.

Discrimination For PEWs

Since this category of people [a gender of its own] cannot be conscripted into the army, gendarmerie, police force, penitentiary personnel and other security corps, they should benefit from positive discrimination in jobs where they are able to perform.

As they Max Ehrmann Desiderata says; “like the grass and trees, they (PLWDs) have a right to be here.”

There are a few centres that cater for the specialised education of people with disabilities, namely: the Rehabilitation Institute for the Blind, Bulu in Buea; Centre for the Deaf and Dumb in Buea; Ephata (deaf and dumb) Centre, Kumba; Centre for the (physically) Handicapped in Bafut. These specialised educational centres need reasonable support from the Government.

The Rehabilitation Institute for the Blind, RIB, Bulu, Buea, commonly known as Bulu Blind Centre, is a specialised school and training centre.

The Director of RIB, Nkwelle Jerry Ewang, told The Post that enrolment into the Centre is free (fee is not required). RIB has a 30-man staff known as social workers comprising of teachers and nurses.

The institute is dynamic in that an individual may want to study Braille (a form of writing and reading for the visually impaired), while another may be interested in just the vocational training.

“A six-month general orientation is designed to determine where a pupil should be placed, either in vocational training or academics.

The academic section runs from Classes One to Six and at the end, the pupil would write the First School Leaving Certificate.

There are people who come just to learn Braille; people who had been to school already and got blind along the way.”

The Centre had 36 pupils last academic year, graduated seven; two in Braille learning, three in vocational training and two sat for the First School Leaving Certificate.

“The running of the Centre,” he said, “depends on the Government’s subvention, though it is inadequate; at times it is FCFA 800.000 tax inclusive. Some organisations and goodwill individuals stop by, from time to time, to give some form of assistance to the school.”

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