No parking space at ABU
The Demonstration School for Deaf Children, Kawo, in Kaduna was established in 1987 by a Canadian volunteer. It was established to offer assistance to children who are affected by deafness and other hearing problems that may have trouble assimilating into mainstream education systems.
The school is tuition-free and not affiliated to any government agency or organisation thus, it relies on donations. Donations made to the school are used for payment of staff salary as well as development of education environment for the school. Parents pay school fees based on their economic status and at their discretion.
The school has students from the deaf communities at pre-primary, primary and junior secondary school levels. It has over 15 teachers and 60 per cent of them are deaf.
The principal Mrs. Victoria Adesina said the school tries to encourage students to feel equal to other members of the society and make every effort to contribute their quota the development of the society, adding: “Nearly all the deaf teachers have been encouraging the students to work hard for their future. The mathematics teacher among them graduated from this school.”
Narrating the history of the school, she said: “It was started by a Canadian volunteer woman whose mother was deaf. She learned the sign language when she was growing up and when she came to Nigeria she developed interest in knowing more about the life of deaf people. And in the course of her findings, she discovered that deaf children in Nigeria don’t go to school until they are between 9 and 10 years old there was only one school for the deaf in Kaduna owned by the government.
“The children then, had to be old enough to take care of themselves in a hostel situation before they can gain admission. And that was too late because language learning starts between the age of 0 and 3 and once you don’t start learning early enough it becomes very difficult for you to learn. Many old deaf people have words not language and their sentence structure is not perfect. So, she started a nursery school where children could learn sign language early enough and make their sentence structure perfect.”
Mrs. Adesina said that parents have been sending their hearingimpaired children to the school mainly because it provides specialised deaf education almost free. The parents, too, attend ‘sign language’ classes on Saturdays to be able to communicate well with their wards at home, free of charge. Sign language which is a generally accepted means of communication by the deaf is being used as mother tongue by over 70 million people in the world.
However, the dust raised by the abandoning of work on a road in front of the school is posing danger the health of staff and students. The contract for the rehabilitation of the road was awarded to a private firm by the Kaduna State Government two years ago but the contractor abandoned the project shortly after the start of work.
Red soil particles have already taken over the school premises, classes, laboratories and staff quarters, courtesy of the dust raised by motorists and other road users. Most of the school’s apparatus and teaching aids as well as the floor are being covered with thin layers of dust, Daily Trust observed.
The principal said dust particles inhaled by the students lodge in their lung tissues and could cause ailments including cough.
She added: “I have a constant cold and most of the students are coughing. It started about two years ago, following the abandonment of the project. And here are kids that are already disabled and they have to inhale dust, day in, day out, when they come to school. My heart breaks for the nursery school kids who are between the ages of 3 and 5.
“With the dust, it is so horrendous. In fact, in my own house, I had to use polythene bags to cover my windows for the past two years and the moment I remove the polythene, the whole place will be covered by dust. We are calling on government to complete the road because of the health hazard involved. Our caretaker who lives in the school is constantly having cold and has blocked nose. Many of the kids are coughing.
“All the apparatus are covered in dust and well-meaning Nigerians who want these kids to have a life should help. Because they are deaf, it does not mean they are semihuman. They are human beings with a lot of potentials in them to make this our country better. We are even ashamed to invite people to come here because everywhere is dirty.”
She said another problem facing the school is lack of funds and many projects, including school expansion, could not be done. “For now we have students up to junior secondary school who can compete with normal students at other schools. We have to start senior classes when we get enough funds to hire teachers and build more classrooms.
Our reporter, who visited the road construction site off Ali Akilu road, observed that the construction work was terminated. A resident in the area said the road was graded about a year ago and work stopped suddenly, adding that dust from the abandoned road constitute serious health hazard for the students and the residents as well.
The Coordinator, Central Zone at the Kaduna State Ministry of Works, Engineer David Chom, mentioned that the contract for the WAEC-GGSS, Kawo-College Road-Lafia Road, all in Kaduna North Local Government Area, was awarded by the government in October 2012, with an advance payment of N128, 040, 104, 75 to the contractor.
The contract sum, according to him, is N512, 160,419, noting that the contractor has so far achieved 47% of work and has a certificate of valuation of N37million awaiting payment. The duration of the project, he said, was six months, meaning that the work ought to have been completed since April, 2013.