By Mmaduabuchi Onwumelu
The Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD), last Tuesday, appealed to Governor Chukwuma Soludo to make policies for protection of students living with albinism against cancer across schools.
The State Chairman of JONAPWD, Comrade Ugochukwu Okeke made the appeal at Awka, Anambra State capital, during the 2023 International Albinism Awareness Day Celebration organized by Anambra State Albinism Association (ASAA), under the theme “Ensuring The Inclusion of the Voices of Persons With Albinism in all Sectors of Life.”
According to Okeke, the policies should include allowing students living with albinism to sit in front seats in their respective classes for easy accessibility of lessons on class boards, wearing of long-sleeves uniforms and trees planting for natural ventilation and other purposes around schools.
‘We are calling on the State government through the ministry of education to make conscious efforts to include the people living with albinism in schools because some of them are not coming out due to these challenges. There are needs to make them seat in the front roles (seats) of their respective classes. This should be a policy so that it will be implemented in all schools; primary, secondary and tertiary.
‘You know that this will help them to easily access the class board. Also, there should be a policy to allow them wear long-sleeves to cover their skins very well and prevent exposition of their skins to sun and cancer. They should equally be encouraged to wear caps. The teachers and schools managements should also learn to plant trees around their schools. Scholarships should be made available to encourage them further their education where possible,’ he stated.
Also speaking, the Centre for Disability and Special Needs Research, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Professor Willie Obiozor, represented by the Deputy Director in the Centre, Dr Silva Obi, assured students living with albinism in the institution supports to develop their talents and further their education hitch-free.
In a lecture, Sir Victor Ezeonwumelu, a lecturer from the Department of Psychology, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, urged people living with albinism to be confident, get education, develop their minds and adopt strategies for overcoming challenges and discriminations from society.
For her part, Mrs Eucharia Ijeoma Anekwe of Gender Perspective and Social Development Centre spoke on sexual harassment and abuses. She urged those living with Albinism to be cautious and avoid sexual predators.
Earlier, the Chairperson, Anambra State Albinism Association (ASAA), Comrade Vivian Ezeonwumelu, listed challenges facing her members to include vision problems, high risk of skin cancer, discriminations and stigmatisation, and urged employment opportunities and education for them to easily overcome the challenges.
The father of the Day, Sir Francis Ezeonwumelu counselled those living with Albinism to always smile and be happy, even as he described them as beautiful creatures capable of doing anything worthwhile.