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Promoting inclusion of physically challenged pupils

Ladidi on her wheelchair at school
© UNICEF Nigeria/2007/Aliyu
Ladidi Moses in her wheelchair on the school grounds of Gwada Central Primary School in Niger State.

Twelve year-old Ladidi Moses is an outstanding pupil at Gwada Central Primay School in Shiroro local government of Niger State. She excels in class and comes top at every examination. Ladidi dreams of a bright future but she knows that in order for her dreams to come true, she will have to continue exercising the strength and perseverance that got her to where she is now.

As a child, Ladidi suffered from poliomyelitis and the disease left her unable to walk without crutches. For the past five years, school has been a struggle as her disability has made it difficult for her to attend classes.

Since enrolling at Gwada Central, Ladidi has had to cover the daily 800 metres distance from her home to school on crutches.

Ladidi’s shinning example of perseverance was recognized by both the school and the local education authorities in Gwada Central. Her exemplary performance in a class of 50 pupils, and in a community that does not encourage female education, prompted her teachers to present Ladidi for recognition at an interactive session that was part of a review of the Girls’ Education Project.

After the visit, UNICEF presented Ladidi with a wheelchair to help ease her difficulties and to encourage her and her family to continue to support her interest in education. The gesture has not only made movement within and outside the school more comfortable for Ladidi but it has also boosted her morale and self confidence.

She dreams of going to higher institution and pursuing a career in medicine. “I want to be a doctor”, she says but she knows that it is a long road to travel and that it will not be easy, least of all because her family is poor. But, she is determined, “I would have loved to proceed to boarding school in Minna but my parents cannot afford it so I will go to the Day Secondary School in Gwada”, she said.

Ladidi acknowledges that she has already surmounted the biggest obstacle in her journey to success. “I have been able to prove both at home and at school that I am capable of facing any challenge. I was very shy when I started coming to school but not anymore”, she added.

Ladidi’s influence has inspired two other physically challenged pupils. Suwaiba Abubakar, 9, and Haftsatu Danladi, 10, are also pupils of Gwada Central who have been affected by poliomyelitis. Ladidi’s accomplishments at school have helped pave the way for them.

UNICEF presented all three girls with wheelchairs in a ceremony attended by members of the school based management committee, the local education authority and other officials. UNICEF presented an additional ten wheelchairs to physically challenged pupils in different primary schools in three focus local government areas of the state.

Ladidi’s story and the presentation of the wheelchairs by UNICEF is helping shape the education of physically challenged children in Niger State. Project officials have reported an increase in enrolment, attendance and performance of physically challenged pupils in the focused areas. Some students who had dropped out of school are returning, hoping the assistance of the project will help make attending school easier for them.

Ladidi can now join other kids at break time; moving around the fields, playing and cheering football games. Social interactions between her and other pupils have improved significantly.

“My favourite subjects are social studies, primary science and English language. And I love football.”

At home, Ladidi helps with the chores but says: “I would love to read at home too but I don’t have books. I would love to have more books to read.”



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