THE PHYSICALLY CHALLENGED AND THE SCHOOL

By: Desmond Okiei

Volunteer


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As a child and growing up as a student in the south of Nigeria, Edo State, Benin City to be precise, there were few physically challenged students in my schools, especially the government owned schools.  A handful of privately owned schools were equipped to meet some needs of those living with disabilities as the majority fall short. As a grown up however, it’s become apparent that the “school” to a physical challenge is more about people and relationships than buildings.

I realize now the attitude of staff and students especially towards students living with disabilities left a lot to be desired. If the reverse were the case,  I wonder if I’d want to be in an environment so hostile. A system that served as a constant reminder of how different and inferior I’m perceived in comparison to my peers. How I’d never measure up irrespective of how high an IQ I possess, because I require assistance to sit and get up from a chair or I come last in sports.

I know now that for a physically challenged, the school transcends learning. It’s Utopia, devoid of all impairments that reminds him of his physical battles. A place where patience, inclusivity and acceptance is oxygen, love shines like the sun at day and care like the moon at night. A place of equality and fairness for all, just as the sky treats the stars.

If I could go back in time, I’d be more sensitive and tolerant, ask peers to be more receptive, implore school administrators to put in place structures/regulations that’re all inclusive and ask for patience, love and care from my teachers towards students leaving with disabilities. The school must constantly evolve to be all and more for the physically challenged.

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