Education

July 10, 2024

I built digital classrooms for 8,000 PLWDs in Anambra – Ubaka

Enugu

By Nwabueze Okonkwo

Chief Godwin Ubaka Okeke, a transport mogul and Chairman of GUO Motors Limited and co-founder of Godwin and Patricia Okeke Foundation, has said he built digital classrooms and dormitories for no fewer than 8,000 people with special needs in Anambra in order to give them a sense of belonging and enable them have access to quality education.

The classrooms, dormitories and vocational centres were equipped with modern learning facilities to accommodate no fewer than 8,000 persons at the Special School for the Deaf in Onitsha, the commercial nerve centre of the Anambra State. The school was established in 1860.

Okeke, who spoke during the handing over ceremony of the structures to the school authorities, as part of activities lined up for his 75th birthday anniversary, said he and his family took it upon themselves to invest in the less-privileged through the gesture so as to offer them atmosphere for conducive learning.

He encouraged other wealthy individuals in the society to come out and invest in the less-privileged, particularly, for people living with disabilities.

He noted that alongside his wife, Patricia, both with the support of their children have been helping the vulnerable people in and outside Anambra State for the past 10 years.

He said, “I, my wife, and my children took it upon ourselves to invest in the less-privileged and people with special needs by building these dormitory and classroom blocks for their conducive learning.

“As also part of celebrating my 75th birthday and my wife’s 70th birthday, we both decided to build and donate this edifice to the school, owned by the Diocese on the Niger (Anglican Communion) Onitsha to encourage them.

”We did this work just to encourage other well-to-do in society to come out and invest in the less privileged, particularly, people with disabilities living among them.

 “We are happy doing this and we will continue to do this, hoping that God is the one that will pay us back. The foundation decided to build this edifice just to assist people with disabilities.

“I have also given out over N30 million in cash to the less-privileged and the elderly, yet we are ready to do more. And I, my wife and my children are doing all this to tell the world that such people need help and let the rich start assisting the poor and the people in need.

Speaking during a sermon in a thanksgiving service to celebrate the 160th anniversary in Consecration of Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther, the first Bishop of the Niger at All Saints Cathedral Onitsha, Rev. Father Owen Nwokolo, described Okeke and his wife Patricia as two people who dedicated their whole lives in serving the less privileged.

The Bishop thanked God for them and prayed that God will continue to bless them.

In her address, the Principal of the School, Felicia Agu, while appreciating the foundation for the kind gesture, said the structure equipped with learning facilities is for boys and girls respectively.

Agu also noted that facilities for practical training, payment of N30,000 incentive as motivation for the entire staff of the school and compilation of SSCE students for the year 2023 were part of the official commissioning.

Speaking earlier, the Programmes Development Manager of the Foundation, Tobechi Onwubuche, said the classrooms and dormitories were specifically designed to address the unique needs of students with hearing impairment and other disabilities.

Onwubuche added that the edifice will save the students the challenges of long distance walk to school and high cost of transportation, which forces them to attend school two or three times a week, thereby missing classes.

He said, “It is estimated that there are 8,000 persons with hearing impairment in Anambra State. Special School for the Deaf, Odoakpu, Onitsha, is managed by both the Anglican Mission and Anambra State government.

“This edifice will save 40 to 50 per cent of the students the challenges of long distance trekking to school due to poverty, high cost of transportation, which forces them to attend school two or three times a week, thereby missing classes.

“Students with hearing impairment are vulnerable to be hit by cars due to limited ability to hear car horns. Lack of assistive technology devices to aid their learning and that of digital skills.

“The dormitory will reduce travel time and transportation cost to school, dedicating more energy to learning. Minimise risks associated with daily long walk to school. They will have uninterrupted education, attend classes every day, fostering consistent learning and growth and enable them consistently benefit from STEM education, Creative skills offered by an NGO.

“With the dormitory, daily access to education for students with hearing impairment is assured which will unlock their potential and build a brighter future for the students.”

According to him, a section within the classroom block will be equipped with assistive technologies like q¹¹¹¹E-readers, computers and tablets with speech recognition software, Text-to-Speech, Progress Monitoring Software.

Pix shows Anglican bishops cutting the tape to. Commission the new hostels and domitories