In the month of May, our organisation put together an essay competition for secondary school students (SS 2 and SS 3 students) in Lagos, Nigeria.

Topic: Peter is thirteen years old. He has cerebral palsy. He is unable to walk, he can make use of his left hand a little but he is unable to use his right hand. His speech is slurred but if you listen carefully, you will be able to hear him talk. He uses a wheelchair and he has a caregiver who also supports him in class.

 Peter has been given admission into your school and he is now your classmate. Some parents of your classmates want him to leave the school. The principal of your school does not know what to do.

 The principal has set up a team of students, including you, to analyse this problem. Should Peter remain in the school or should he be sent to a special school?

The essay was an argumentative essay and students were free to argue in support or against inclusive education.

We received well over a hundred essays. They were marked by Touch of Gold Media Ltd and the top 15 essays were selected. The selected students proceeded to the second phase of the competition. Which was a Think Tank Competition.

The Think Tank Competition held on the 15th of June, 2019 at British Council, Ikoyi. 

During the event, the students watched a documentary titled Oluwalonimi, Benefits of Inclusive Education. A story about a six year old girl living with cerebral palsy who attends a mainstream school. She also happens to be the daughter of the founder of P4:13 Foundation, Bukola Ayinde.  

The students listened to three people living with disabilities talk about their lives, challenges and successes. These speakers include, Miss Ejiro Okotie, who is visually impaired, Mr Busayo Adegbulugbe uses a wheelchair and Miss Anita Chijioke is an SS 2 student of Hope Fountain School for the Deaf.

Miss Ejiro spoke about how she lost her sight at a very young age and eventually how she had to learn to live an independent life. She is currently the founder of Hope Inspire foundation for women and youth. A Mandela Washington Fellow. She has a master degree in Public and International Affairs. 

Mr Busayo  Adegbulugbe studied Geomatics Engineering in the university of Lagos. He is currently a fashion designer and a restaurant owner. He also spoke about how he overcame low self esteem and depression. 

Chijioke Anita told the students how she became deaf at a young age. She also mentioned that her school proprietress is her hero as she took her into school even though she couldn’t afford the school fees. She spoke about her ability to do things such as chores and also learn in school like her peers in spite of her disability.  

She told the students that she sometimes experience low self esteem and shame when people mock her because of her disabilities. She spoke about her experience when she walked the streets in her neighbourhood and people threw stones at her because she did not hear when they called out to her.  Indeed, we need more kindness in the world. 

The students asked the three speakers a lot of questions. Which they got answers too. It was indeed an inspiring moment. 

Other speakers at the event included, Rhoda Odigbo, Director, Academics -Bridge International, who spoke about Disability Inclusion. 

Mrs Dotun Akande, Founder, Patrick Speech & Language, spoke to the teachers in attendance about the role of teachers in disability inclusion. Teachers also had the opportunity to ask questions and they gave suggestions. 

Mr Joel Nwokeoma, Opinion Editorial, Page Editor, The Punch Newspaper spoke about the role of the media and disability inclusion.

Mr Ayo Ajose Adeogun, CEO, Oando Refinery emphasized the need to show empathy and not pity.

Some of the questions were directed at the government and these were addressed by the Lagos State government representatives in the room.

The Permanent Secretary for Youth and Development Lagos State was represented by the Director for Child Development, Mrs Olubukayo  Odukoya. 

The Permanent Secretary for Education Lagos State was represented by officers from Education Division 4 at Yaba. 

These discussions were very educative, eye opening and definitely there is a lot of work for all stakeholders in entrenching disability inclusion in our society.

The students watched a documentary, they listened to speakers living with disabilities. They also heard from experts. They had the opportunity to ask questions. It was time for them to come up with recommendations for Lagos State government in other to promote disability inclusion. 

The students were asked to pick their groups through ballot. They were divided into five teams of three students each. 

They left the room to another room where they could brainstorm. They had less than 40mins to work on their task. The brainstorming room had tables with no chairs. The students took different positions. 

They deliberated on issues, chose the areas they wanted to focus on. They picked their team leaders and it was time to face the judges.

The judges include:

  • Mr Henry Hector Amiwero, Head Legal, Compliance & Communications
  • Mr Ayo Ajose Adeogun, CEO, Oando Refinery
  • Mr Joel Nwokeoma, Opinion Editorial, Page Editor, The Punch Newspaper
  • Mrs Dotun Akande, Founder, Patrick Speech & Language
  • Director for Child Development, Mrs Olubukayo Odukoya
  • Tonye Foloughi Ekezie, A media consultant, an inclusion advocate
  • Adetokunbo Oyo Ogunsanya, Head HR, Inlaks Limited.

The competition was highly competitive. One could see that the students had listened during the earlier sessions.  Most of the students recommended inclusive education for all schools in Lagos State. 

Some recommended recognition for successful people living with disabilities as this will show that there is ability in disability.

Some students recommended increase in Paralympics; while some students recommended ramps in public places to make buildings assessable to people living with disabilities.

At the end of the event, the judges made their decisions and the winners emerged.

Winners of the Think Tank Competition

1st position -Team B

  1. Buyikunmi Owo-Odusi from Meadow Hall
  2. Ruth Onome from St Joseph Secondary School
  3. Udo Uzoagba from Kings College

2nd position Team D

  1. Ginikachi Uwasomba – Kings Emmanuel Progressive College, Ayobo
  2. Daniella Amasowomwan –  Linsy Secondary School
  3. Abogunrin Oluwapelumi – Iju Grammar School

3rd position Team E

  1. Opral Ogbonna – Dowen College
  2. Oyinkansola Adebajo – Grace Schools
  3. Omotoso Oluwadabira – Avicenna

The winners of the Essay Competition:

1st position- Opral Ogbonna from Dowen College

2nd position – Saidat Lamina from Iju Grammar School

3rd position – Ginikachi Uwasomba from King Emmanuel Progressive College

The event ended with the convener, Bukola Ayinde, inspiring the students to remember all that they had learnt. She told them they should spread the news and make a difference in their schools and areas of influence. She also told them that when they become leaders they should make informed decisions about people living with disabilities and therefore make the world a better place to live for everyone.

Indeed, it was a great beginning of better things to come in disability inclusion advocacy.

Our volunteers at this event include

  1. Olaitan Boboye
  2. Rita Arewa
  3. Comfort Effiong
  4. Temitope Osoba

Our sponsors at the event are:

  1. British Council provided the venue
  2. Total E & P Nigerian Cooperative provided funds for logistics, feeding, gifts for speakers and invited guests with disability as well as gifts for student participants.
  3. Guaranty Trust Bank donated N450,000.00 for first and second position (Think Tank Competition)
  4. Mr Lawrence Ayinde donated N75,000 for third position (Think Tank Competition)
  5. Inlaks Limited donated two HP laptops for first and Second position (Essay Writing Competition)
  6. QuiverFull Foundation donated a dell laptop for third position (Essay Writing Competition)

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