By Zulkifil Aminu Adam
It has come to our attention that three Kano residents with disabilities have been chosen to be among the recipients of the state’s current scholarship scheme. However, due to failure to match the conditions, i.e. First Class, they will be granted a domestic scholarship rather than a foreign one. This is highly commendable, and we express our heartfelt gratitude on behalf of the disability community. However, I beg permission to bring something critical to the notice of the administration in the hope that it will urge the government to reconsider this arrangement.
First and foremost, people with disabilities (PDWs) require special consideration in every socioeconomic, academic, and political sphere. This is a widely accepted general remark that arose due to the innate proclivities of individuals with disabilities. It is consistent with the above general statement that the University of Ilorin in Kwara state admits PWDs without requiring them to take the post-UTME, not to mention the various benefits PWDs receive at the university.
Several Nigerian universities have declared 160 as the cut-off mark for PWDs; the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) is currently holding a conference with deaf student representatives from various Nigerian tertiary institutions to discuss and ensure compliance with the above statement in dealing with PWDs regarding admission issues.
Second, in the case of Kano and the Nigerian educational system in general. It is critical to consider the educational framework in which persons with disabilities grew up before proceeding with their placement or requiring particular academic standards from them. As deaf students in secondary school, we were taught by teachers who walked away after filling up blackboards because they couldn’t communicate in sign language. We had to study on our own. And the government did nothing to address the situation.
When we finished secondary school and fought for admission to the university, we were compelled to study in Special Education (a department that has never produced a first-class graduate) or change university. We don’t have a choice except to accept.
Then, we enter lecture halls and face a new challenge: exclusion. We sit among hearing students (who enjoy the lecture), feeling lost and neglected. We were not provided with sign language interpreters. Isn’t this depressing? Nonetheless, we persevered through all these difficulties until graduation.
Despite all the challenges we faced from secondary school to university, we were required to finish with first-class honours to be considered for a foreign scholarship. With due respect, the demand is excessive. The government, schools, or whatever institution should not give us less while expecting so much from us.
Of course, we do not justify lower academic performance by disability, but by our unmet needs and the numerous obstacles we face as people with disabilities on the path to academic improvement – thanks to the carefree attitude of the government and the universities. Please allow me to say that a deaf graduate from Bayero University Kano (BUK) with a Second Class is equivalent to a First-Class hearing graduate in the same university.
Dear KNSG, Kano deaf students, whether First Class or not, deserve a foreign scholarship. The difficulties they overcome to graduate are sufficient justifications. Let the scholarship be a restitution for the government’s neglect throughout history.
Zulkifil Aminu Adam is the Assistant Secretary, National Association of Nigerian Deaf Students (NANDS). He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.