The Vice-Chancellor, Wesley University of Science and Technology, Ondo State (WUST), Professor Ndubueze Ukachukwu recently led a delegation, comprising Gallaudet University (GU), Washington DC, United States of America and Nigeria National Association of the Deaf (NNAD) to the National Universities Commission (NUC), Abuja, to solicit the Commission’s partnership on Education for the deaf programme in Nigeria.
Receiving the team on behalf of the Executive Secretary, Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, mni, MFR, FNAL, the Deputy Executive Secretary, Barrister Victor Onuoha, applauded the initiative of GU and WUSTO to build a school for the deaf in Ogun State.
He expressed the delight of the NUC over the good working relationship existing between the two institutions.
The executive secretary stated that NUC was ready to be a leading partner in the laudable project, noting however, that the Commission would take a cursory look at the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by both institutions before giving its feedback.
In her remarks, the Dean, Gallaudet University, Professor Khadijat Rashid said that the institution was a private university, founded in 1864, and that it was originally conceived as a grammar school for both the deaf and blind children.
She said that it was the first school for advancing the education of the deaf and hard of hearing in the world and remained the only higher education institution in which all programmes and services were specifically designed to accommodate these vulnerable groups.
She, however, stressed that hearing students are admitted to the graduate school and a small number were also admitted as undergraduates each year.
She said that the university was named after Thomas Hopkings Gallaudet, a notable figure in the advancement of deaf education.
Explaining further, she said, that in conjunction with WUSTO, they had already secured a land in Ogun State, where the facilities will be built, adding that the reason for choosing the state was due to its proximity to Lagos state, which had an airport.
According to her, with the help of NUC, the Federal Government could help to fund the project the way the United States (US) Congress had helped to fund the Gallaudet University.
She disclosed that the intention was to build standard facilities that would aid the deaf because it was a special school.
She also revealed that programmes such as Hotel Management, Tourism and Medical Services would be included in the courses for the students to study and be self-sufficient, upon graduation.
She said that Nigerian students in Gallaudet University were excited about the project in Nigeria and were willing to lend a helping hand.
Mr. Muhammed Adelani, the Vice- President of NNAD, stated that this was the third visit of the team to NUC and acknowledged that the Commission was a very important partner in the project, expressing satisfaction that progress had been made since the first visit.
He also said that the Federal Ministry of Education (FME) had been notified and “they are also willing to support the project.”
He lamented that the deaf were being discriminated against in society, which was the more reason the school for the deaf had been advocated so that, after graduation, they could go into business and fend for themselves.
He mentioned Ghana as an example of a country in Africa that had a fantastic project for the deaf, with good facilities. He also expressed the hope that if the government in Nigeria could have a basic understanding of deaf education, they would give consideration to assisting in funding the project they were about to embark upon.
According to him, it is sad that deaf education in Nigeria was dropping by the years, while the number of Nigerians who could afford to send their children to Gallaudet University had also dropped.
Others in the delegation included the Personal Assistant to the National President NNAD, Sulayman .A. Ujah; Chairman, Omoregie Ephraim; interpreter Amanda Mueller and Sign Language Interpreter, Timothy Tinat.