Fewer than forty percent of Nigeria’s deaf children are enrolled into primary school, and even fewer are allowed to continue into secondary education
This was the cause for worry for stakeholders at the launch of a new activity to empower the deaf in Nigeria by the United States Agency for International Development, USAID.
The new three-year, two point five million dollars activity-Deaf-Ethree, is expected to strengthen deaf education, empowerment and employment, as well as build the capacity of groups in advancing education that fully meets the needs of the deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind Nigerians, including educational professionals, Nigerian Sign Language interpreters, and development actors.
Speaking during the launch, the Acting Mission Director, USAID, Katie Donohoe, said through the partnership with Gallaudet, USAID is supporting a change of tide for the deaf community, adding that deaf people can do every other thing those people who can hear do, except to hear.
According to her, deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind people can excel at all levels of education and employment when they are provided an education that is accessible and designed for them to directly interact and communicate with their parents, teachers, and peers.
The Deaf-E3 Project Manager, Olufemi Ige, who provided a Nigerian Sign Language lesson to commemorate the day, also engaged attendees in the recognition of sign languages as relevant and valued forms of communication for all.
The project Manager said the activity, which became operational in May this year, will continue through 2024, and will develop manuals to train educational professionals in a multimodal and multilingual approach in deaf education.
Senior Special Assistant to the President of the Federation on Education Interventions, Fela Bank-Olemoh, said programmes like this are critical in ensuring that all stakeholders’ hands are on deck to address the problem of under-education, under-development, and poverty among the deaf community.
The Presidential aide expressed joy that Gallaudet, which conducts research in many fields and considered the premier U.S institution of higher learning for the deaf community, already has a presence in Nigeria.
Also present at the event were officials from Gallaudet University, the Nigerian National Association of the Deaf, as well as Senator Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, from Nasarawa State, who is part of Nigeria’s deaf community.