Catering for children with special needs in the regular classroom: challenges and the way forward
The National Policy on Education specifically stipulates that there is need for equality of educational opportunities to all Nigerian children irrespective of any real or imagined disabilities (FNG 2004). The policy further states that Education of children with special needs shall be free at all levels and all necessary facilities that would ensure easy access to education shall be provided via inclusive education or integration of special class and units into ordinary/public classes under the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme. These policy statements appear lofty but their attainment under the present situation seems to be a mirage. Already, about seven million Nigerian children of school going age are out of the school system. Besides most of the public schools are overcrowded and over populated with little or no attention paid to the special child. Furthermore, there are not enough qualified personnel and instructional materials in the school system. The implication of this state of affairs in children with special needs is not adequately catered for. Worst still, most of the children with special needs are not identified early enough let alone intervention and remedial programmes arranged for them. This paper, therefore, examines the current classroom environment vis-a-vis the desire to cater for the special needs of the child. It further identifies the challenges involved in catering for the special needs child and the way forward.