Justice for Nasarawa State Deaf Children

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Government Comprehensive Special School, Lafia in Nigeria, was commissioned by President Buhari in February 2018. This school is located in Lafia, Nasarawa State, which is about 265 kilometers from Abuja's capital city.

The school has three main streams: Deaf, Blind, and Learning Disability.

The school is currently run by Mrs. Baerbel Jaja, a German lady who happens to be a longtime Nigerian resident. She claims to have both administrative and special education experience, which have been proven to be seriously lacking for the following reasons:

1. As two-thirds of the entire pupil population is deaf, it is imperative to note that she has no knowledge of sign language and has made no attempt to learn sign language in the two years she had been in the school.

2. Several parents made repeated complaints about their children's lack of progress in the school due to her various strange policies and have thus withdrawn their children in large numbers from the school. It is also important to note that she does not support any type of vocational skill training for the students, which will help prepare them to lead independent lives.

3. One of her strange and discriminatory policies towards the Deaf is that no deaf student above the age of 18 can attend school. Despite the fact that many of these so-called 'older' students have never had primary school education, which means that they are deprived of their right to basic education.

4. Another strange policy is that children cannot play outside in the school playground during their break time. She has even removed all the playground equipment and leaving only two swings for the entire school.

5. A glaring example of her poor handling with children occurred when she falsely accused a girl with a learning disability of being pregnant just because the girl had a big tummy and insisted that the girl leave the school without verifying the cause of the big tummy. A pregnancy test taken in the clinic turned out to be negative, but Mrs. Baerbel Jaja was not satisfied with the result and demanded that more pregnancy tests be taken outside the school. All of which turned out to be negative, and reluctantly had to let the girl stay in the school.

6. Due to her poor administrative performance and unwillingness to improve teachers' capacity, the school has lost several teachers. This has largely resulted in general demoralization amongst the staff.

7. Regular bullying and harassment of teachers in students' presence have now become the norm throughout the school.

All these have been reported several times to the Nasarawa State Ministry of Education, which has made no effort to stop a further decline of the school and thus supported the renewal of Mrs. Baerbel Jaja's contract to continue running the school, which we vehemently oppose.

This shows injustice and gross misconduct based on discrimination and unjustifiable oppression by Mrs Baerbel Jaja against the people living with disabilities, particularly the Deaf and those in their community.

Mrs. Baerbel Jaja has been doing everything possible to sweep her numerous indiscretions under the carpet. We implore the Governor of Nasarawa State as the decision-maker to investigate this and act swiftly to restore the confidence of people with disabilities in Nasarawa State.

 

Labaran Bala
National Public Relation Officer