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  • Chris McMillan

Sisters bring inclusive education to children with and without disabilities

Global Sisters Report

5th November 2020

Sisters bring inclusive education to children with and without disabilities

On a cloudy July morning in 2019, Sr. Scholastica Achinkumbur stands at the entrance of St. Vincent's Centre for Inclusive Education to welcome students accompanied by their parents.

Soon to arrive are Mfoniso Akpan, 10, and Done Kufre, 5, who both have cerebral palsy, a group of permanent movement disorders that appear in early childhood. Achinkumbur collects Done from a man who had carried him into the center and seats him on a couch in the reception area. She calls Sr. Martha Oko, who picks up the 5-year-old in her arms to go to class.

Achinkumbur then takes Mfoniso, positions his hands on a scooter and walks him down to the assembly for the morning devotion.

There the sisters will lead students in prayers and songs, employing sign language for those with hearing difficulties. Done and Mfoniso cheerfully join in.

Done, Mfoniso and others like them benefit from an inclusive education offered by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, whose mission is to exclude no one on grounds of disability, language, gender, ethnicity or any other barrier to a full education.

Nigeria offers few schools for children with disabilities. As a result, many of them end up staying at home while some resort to begging on the streets. Society makes matters worse when it struggles to accept them.

"The essence of making this school inclusive is to meet the educational needs of children with disabilities," said Achinkumbur, who is also the administrator of the center, "and help children [without disabilities] at their tender age to learn how to live together with those children that have challenges. So as they grow, what they meet in the society will no longer be a new thing."

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