The right to education is universal and extends to all children, youth, and adults with disabilities. This right is enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2008). It is also addressed in several significant, international declarations, including the World Declaration for Education for All (1990), the UNESCO Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action (1994), and the Dakar Framework for Action (2000).
It is also one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which states to Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. This goal cannot be achieved in Nigeria if a certain population within the society are left out of this noble initiative as a result of colour, religion, ethnicity, social and economic status, cultural and religious background. This is pertinent in view of the many challenges confronting children with albinism, which include children dropping out of school because of poverty from their parents/guardians, parents not wanting to send their albino children to school due to the mistaken belief that albinos cannot do well in school, children with albinism refusing to go to school because of bullying, stigma and discrimination from peers and teachers.
How this goal will be attainable for children with albinism and albinism community in general is a question to be answered by the state. What effort is being put in place by state towards ensuring that this vulnerable population have access to quality and affordable education is another question begging for an answer.
From the study on children with albinism in Nigeria carried out by the foundation and supported by UNICEF, it was discovered that 40% of persons with albinism in Nigeria are children. This is a large number that cannot be ignored if Nigeria is to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals 4 of the United Nations Target.
Presently, the foundation has sent over three hundred children with albinism to school through partnership and collaboration with other private and international development organisations such a Total Staff Cooperative Society, UNICEF and IHVN. The foundation is currently paying school fees and other logistics of 140 children cut across the federation.
The Foundation’s Education Trust Fund is aimed at ensuring that persons with albinism especially children with albinism who are not in school due to one reason or the other have access to quality education. The outcome of the education trust fund will reduce the number of out-of-school children with albinism in Nigeria; improve school enrolment among children with albinism; improve learning and teaching of albinism education in schools; and reduce the illiteracy level in Nigeria especially within the vulnerable population.
The Education Trust Fund will enable the foundation to have a pool of fund where it can rely on to have as many children with albinism in schools. In so doing, more children who are out of school due to one reason or the other can be sent to school.
Seventy percent (70%) of the money realised will be used specifically for the children school fees, uniforms, books, sandals etc. while the remaining 30% will be used by the foundation to run the administrative expenses.
We, therefore, call on all and sundry to support the foundation in sending at least a child to school.