Special Needs Initiative for Growth believes that STEM and robotics programs are ideally suited to those with special needs

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Achieving an inclusive and quality education for all reaffirms the belief that education is one of the most powerful and proven vehicles for sustainable development. This means that inclusivity should transcend beyond the norm. This goal ensures that all girls and boys complete free primary and secondary schooling by 2030. It also aims to provide equal access to affordable vocational training, to eliminate gender and wealth disparities, and achieve universal access to a quality higher education.

The sustainable development goal for quality education ensures that everyone, despite their capabilities, should have access to education. Given that it states that primary education should be free, it didn’t restrict anyone. In Nigeria, and Namibia, it is no different. Coupled together with women empowerment, Racheal Inegbedion and Victoria Joel have defied the odds in making sure that inclusivity on education is put to work.

Blog4sdgs - quality educationIn Nigeria, Racheal Inegbedion is the hope of a group of young adults aged between 16 to 35, who are living with Down syndrome and autism spectrum disorder, as well as children with cerebral palsy and vision impairments. Through Special Needs Initiative for Growth, these adults are taught skills on robotics programs. Rachel believes that STEM and robotics programs are ideally suited to those with special needs, and armed with the skills gleaned from these subjects, students have their best shot at a place in tomorrow’s workforce.

Founding Executive Director Racheal Inegbedion believes that education is about empowering young people with a disability to pursue a career of their dreams in technology through teaching them abut robotics to young adults aged 16 to 35 with Down syndrome and autism spectrum disorder, and children with cerebral palsy and vision impairments. She says that, the main reason was because some of the biggest barriers to people with a disability pursuing a career in STEM or IT is a lack of confidence.

Blog4sdgs -  quality educationIn Namibia, Victoria Joel is the co—founder of COHA; which is Circle of Hope Special Education. This is a school that was started in 2018 by Ms. Victoria Joel. The school caters mainly to children with autism or that are slow learners with disabilities. The school was established to fill the big gap of none or few accessible educational facilities for people living with disabilities here in the northern part of Namibia and of course parents’ outcry to have a school that will address their needs and teach on the approach they are able to. Josef argues that, often when people see disabled children and or elders, they often make fun of them. She says that the first time she started to have intakes, only two children signed up for the year. However, after a while, more parents saw the need and started enrolling their children.

Through COHA, children are taught through individual education plans through the use of the Ministry of education NIED curriculums. Among that, COHA therapeutically works on the learner’s social interaction, behavior and communication skills.

To complement this, through the Special Needs Initiative in Nigeria, a developmental partner of the project, Oluwatobiloba Oluwole teaches the students how to fly drones at the Global Air Drone Academy in the port city of Lagos. After a professional drone flying demonstration, he gives students DIY kits that enable them to design and assemble their own aircraft.

“We make them aware that they are in charge of comprehensive, expensive, potentially dangerous equipment that they will be held liable for should something happen. We make them aware that they are in control of an aircraft.” As a result, these students are inspired and excited at the same time.

Through COHA, children are taught through individual education plans through the use of the Ministry of education NIED curriculums. Among that, COHA therapeutically works on the learner’s social interaction, behavior and communication skills.

The staff at COHA are professionally trained and fully understand what it takes to care for children with autism. As such, the school has taken into consideration the introduction of an Occupational Therapist, speech therapist, clinical psychologist as well as the parents for a multi-disciplinary approach for better results. This not only shows the children that they are cared for, it also gives them the freedom to learn in an environment that is conducive.

Meanwhile in Nigeria, there is another branch that serves the purpose of providing internships for older people living with disabilities; Internship Organisation for Young Adults with Disability, Brainiacs STEM and Robotics Company. Through this initiative, Clifford Ajefo shows them how to build basic driving robots from scratch before progressing onto more advanced units with superior functions. They are also encouraged to build robots with inexpensive materials they can find at home. Through this initiative, the students are not only given the platform to learn, but they are also given the space to create their own work through what they learned. This instills pride within them and makes them feel like they are part of something great.

Through these initiatives, both these women have not only given hope to children and young adults who felt they didn’t belong in a society, they also provided these students and learners with a platform to create their own identity.

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