By Kosiso Onyibalu & Arinola Kolade
Towards making life more bearable for children living with disability in Lagos, the Office of the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Social Development, has urged parents to safeguard the rights of children with disability.
She spoke during an enlightenment session held during the second Annual Stakeholders’ Forum on Disability, with the theme: “Knowing the Rights of Children Living with Disabilities”.
Addressing the parents at the event, the Special Adviser, Mrs Joyce Onafowokan,commended them for attending the forum adding that the occasion was organized to further address the thorny issues affecting children living with disabilities in our society, particularly Lagos State. According to her, the governor is committed to making life more meaningful for every child living with disability.
She disclosed that since the first annual Stakeholders’ Forum there had been noticeable improvement in the skills required for effective handling and management of children living with disability by parents and guardians.
Onafowokan said this year’s edition of the Stakeholders’ Forum was meant to reveal the basic rights of children living with disability and to strengthen the partnership between parents and other stakeholders for the benefit of the society as a whole.
In her presentation, Dr. B.A. Animashaun, Associate Professor/Consultant Paediatrician, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, stated that before 2006, there was no specific global policy relating to the rights of children living with disability. However, she recalled that the United Nations Organisation, in 2006, adopted a convention that spelt out the rights of our children with disability.
Animashaun acknowledged that even though there are many challenges that people in the category face, the UN convention was meant to promote the fact that these children have equal rights with others. “They are entitled to social protection just like every other person; there should be no discrimination against them. Nobody should refer to them as handicapped or physically challenged.”
Director-General, Office of Education Quality Assurance, Lagos Ministry of Education, Mrs. Ronke Soyombo, said children living with disability should not be relegated to the background, as they are entitled to free education up to secondary school level in Lagos State.