Dr. Adebukola S. Adebayo
Founder & Director General,
Human & Organizational Resources Development Centre (HORDC)
Inclusive education is the education system which provides for every citizen whether he/she is a child, teenager adolescent or adult. Under this system, schools, classrooms, teachers, teaching or instructional aides/materials, curriculum, school-community environment, etc are
designed, developed, established, administered, managed, monitored and evaluated to ensure that equal opportunities of access and participation is guaranteed to everyone irrespective of their sex/gender, age, ethnic and religious background, socio-economic background, disability, etc.
Various international policy frameworks including the MDGs, the SDGs and several international laws and conventions have declared that education is a fundamental right of the citizen which all governments at all levels must provide. This declaration implies that no citizen irrespective of his or her status should be turned back from school.
However, in Nigeria and several other developing nations, access to qualitative, functional and effective education has been a serious challenge to a significant fraction of the population such that UNICEF declared that over 10 million children in Nigeria are out of school due to poverty, disability, home to school distance, negative cultural
practices, gender discrimination, violent conflicts, environmental disasters, etc.
Several researches have been conducted across the world to establish the importance and relevance of inclusive education to sustainable growth and development. From the economist point of view, inclusive education is “the most judicious way of effectively utilizing scarce educational resources.” This is so because it is a known fact that
qualified teachers and other relevant educational manpower, as well as other educational financial and material resources have always or perpetually been in short supply across nations. In fact, it is on record that most nations find it difficult to meet with the UNESCO 26% budget standard for education. Accordingly, rather than establish different schools or educational interventions for different needs
such as special schools for people with disabilities, all schools should be made accessible to, and inclusive of persons with disabilities in accordance with global best practices and standards.
Certainly, funds and other resources saved through this approach will be deployed for other very important public services.
Some of the major challenges of the economies and business environment in developing countries like Nigeria is the shortage of quality manpower or human resources. This is because besides the general falling standard of education, several potential productive manpower are left out of school due to reasons earlier mentioned. It is logical that when virtually all potential human capacity of the society are accommodated in the education system, the economy and the business environment will be populated by a higher population of potentially qualitative and productive manpower; giving the productive sectors a wider range of human capacity options.
History has shown that persons with disabilities, who are among the most educationally excluded have been responsible for some of the greatest scientific discoveries and inventions in the world. This achievements, from which contemporary economic and business organizations now benefit and flourish wouldn’t have been possible if
those disabled persons were not given a chance to access qualitative, functional and effective education in their countries. This therefore implies that several of such “great minds” are still been unnecessarily left out of school in less developed economies who need them most to turn their socioeconomic fortunes positively around. In Nigeria for instance, persons with disabilities have become great
achievers in key sectors including ICT, media, engineering, medicine, music and arts, etc. However, the discriminatory behaviours of Nigerian political and business elites towards people with disabilities have perpetually ignored the vast potentials among such people. This perpetual “ignorance” among the political and business class will be drastically reduced through inclusive education because all children of today who will grow to be future replacement for today’s political and business elites would have attended same schools with their counterparts with disabilities and would have learnt and understood their socio-economic and other potentials.
Economic and business organizations across the world especially in developing countries are generally plagued by an extremely mobile and unstable employee and labour force. Oftentimes, in developing economies, labour is constantly in search of “greener pastures” and as such has a higher potential to exit jobs more frequently and at the
shortest or no notice. Business psychologists have established the facts that employees with disabilities tend to be more committed, dedicated, and loyal to their employers. In addition, it is also established that employees with disabilities tend to retain jobs for much longer periods than their nondisabled counterparts. However, how can the economy and the business sector enjoy this uncommon
opportunity of a reasonably stable productive human capacity if such socio-economically active patriots are denied the opportunity to access qualitative education? Or how will their productive self-esteem and their socio-economic interactive competences be developed when they are constantly locked up in segregated special schools which reinforces the culture of discrimination among other
The culture of inclusive education, if imbibed will lay a national culture of socio-political and economic inclusion where every citizen is provided for, and is able to effectively participate, irrespective of their status, religion, belief, disability, political affiliation, etc. The culture of inclusive education will engender an economic and business culture of inclusive and accessible products and services which therefore translate into more customers/clients, more patronage, more profits, more growth and development for the economy and the business sector, and more sustainable national development.
Why should a performing president, governor, minister, commissioner, top business executive, highly talented employee, a patriot, a positive change champion, a highly skill and talented professional, a very skillful artisan, a wife, a husband, a child loos any opportunity in life because he or she acquired a disability either from birth or later in life as an adult? The culture of inclusive education will engender innovation and creativity in making provision for unexpected
incidences. Through inclusive education we will all learn how to ensure that no one is kicked out of office, employment, business or even marriage because he or she acquired a disability. Economic and business organizations have lost many renowned and highly productive manpower because they acquired a disability while on their jobs; when
such persons would have been simply rehabilitated and returned to their jobs, while their organizations continue to benefit from their actual knowledge, skills, institutional memories, potentials and talents. Inclusive education will teach us how to make our business environments and work places inclusive and accessible to everyone whether with or without a disability. Inclusion helps to provide for and serve everyone. Inclusion teaches us to provide the “greatest good
for the greatest number of people and infact for everybody.”
Finally, our economies, the entire business community and indeed, our nation Nigeria has everything to gain and absolutely nothing to lose if it supports inclusive education. Disability-sensitive inclusive education promotes cost effective, cheap and highly profitable economic system and business environment. Inclusive education is the
bedrock for functional national integration, lasting unity and
sustainable peace and development in Nigeria.