The effort of some parents to ensure a better future and sense of belonging for their handicapped children through education is being defeated in the Abuja School for the Handicapped, writes DANIEL TYOKUA.
The Abuja School for the Handicapped from its inception in 1999 was called Social Welfare Centre. It was changed to ‘the Abuja School for the Handicapped’ in 2001 and put under the Federal Capital Territory Universal Basic Education Board (FCT-UBEB).
The place is only meant for physically and mental challenged children. They were expected to be rehabilitated by teachers, who specialised in handling individuals that are impaired in one area or the other.
However, the reverse is now the case as the place can at present, be described literally as a dead end, judging by its managers’ inability to keep to its defined status. A visit to the school located in the heart of Kuje town one of the suburb Area Councils is not only tortuous but one that can leave any visitor in tears by mere seeing how the students are grappling with apperant dehumanising challenges.
The dormitories where the students are kept is even unfit for animals in a civilized climes but the students despite their pitiable condition continue to cope and live like rats in a place call ‘special’ school for them.
The AUTHORITY’s findings showed that the dormitories, especially the one for the male students, has no good beds, toilet and good source of water supply.
It was gathered that all efforts by the school management to seek for help from wealthy individuals or corporate organisation to assist them in any way they can, have been suffering setback as the FCT UBEB always object it, though reasons for such an action was not known yet as of the time of writing this report.
With the physical disability of the students whereby many of them can’t eat on their own, wash clothes, urinate and take bath, among many others, yet the school is under staffed without the basic infrastructure that would make life worth living by the students and teachers.
It is a result of this that only teachers that studied special education are allowed to manage them, but only few ones with Parents Teachers Association (PTA) staff are available in managing the 207 students, which include 100 girls and 107 boys.
Amidst the ugly development, the FCT UBEB appears to have worsen the already bad situation by failing to fast track the 2016 payment of feeding allowances for the school, hence the students have become restless over inadequate food supply.
Since last term, which lasted between September and December, 2016, the students had allegedly consumed food worth N3 million without upsetting the debt, just as the present feeding allowance is still soaring.
The AUTHORITY’s investigation shows that feeding for each student goes for N250 per a child on daily basis even as it was gathered that the current situation is occasioned by a disconnect between the board executives and the school PTA over term dues.
Prior to the problem of inadequate food supply to the school, the students during the days of PTA reign were paying N13,000 while the UBEB objected the development, giving its condition that it should be N1,500 per a child or the collection should be handled by the board.
It was not too clear what informed the delay in releasing the feeding allowance for the students, but the Director of FCT UBEB, Alhaji Adamu Jatau Noma, told The AUTHORITY in a telephone conversation that, he was not aware if the school was being owed feeding allowance up to that amount.
“I’m not aware if that is the amount involved but I’ll look into it and know what exactly is the issue,” he stated.
When asked if the board was holding the school feeding allowance starting from last year till date, he said: “I’m not in the office, so I can’t give the figures off heart without cross checking the records, but we will look into the matter and address it.”
The situation, coupled with the harsh economic situation had resulted to many food vendors not accepting to give out food on credit, especially with the amount previously being owed them.
However, the school Head Teacher, Victoria Bitrus Agah and the PTA Chairman, Samuel Agada when contacted through telephone refused to comment on the issue.
Although, a reliable source confirmed to The AUTHORITY that the allowance meant for the upkeep since 2015 had been hijacked.
The worrisome development, according to the source, who craved anonymity, has prompted many parents to consider taking their children away from the handicapped school to privately-run schools, where they can get better attention and conducive environment for learning.