No park­ing space at ABU

Daily Trust - - EDUCATION -

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.

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