Dyslexia Nigeria Calls for Special Needs Curriculum in Teacher Training Colleges

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Funmi Ogundare

The Director, Dyslexia Nigeria, Dr. Adrienne Tikolo has stressed the need for teacher training colleges in the country to have a curriculum that will cater for people with speacial needs, such as dyslexia; this she said would help to identify early signs of challenges in children and best ways to deal with them.

Tikolo said this recently while briefing journalists on its awareness dyslexia month and the maiden edition of the annual African Dyslexic dialogue with the theme ‘Unmasking Dyslexia’, in partnership with United Ways, which will hold on Novemer 21 at Radisson Blu, Ikeja.

She expressed concern that 90 per cent of teachers in the country are not aware of the challenge, adding that dyslexia should be seen as a learning difference rather than a disability.

She disclosed that one out of five chidren in schools have the challenge and early intervention is key.
“A lot of people don’t understand the importance of learning and bringing out the potential of children. There should be a government policy that would ensure that they do a universal screening, early identification and intervention which will change things.”

The director highlighted some of the challenges militating against early diagnosis to include people not believing that children actually have the disorder; inability of schools to train their teachers on the disorder and provide resources, going into public schools in remote areas to talk to teachers, adding that it is a huge problem if teachers are unable to identify dyslexia among their pupils.

Tikolo described children with the disorder as very creative, but have challenges with reading, writing, and processing information, adding that the dangers of not diagnosing it early could lead to high school drop out rate, frustration and depression which could also be a major cause of suicide among youths in the country.

“It is a huge cost to the society when they are not contributing to the society. Our vision at Dyslexia Nigeria is to ensure that all children can attain their full potential. We worry a lot about children who are out of school in Nigeria, meanwhile there are children who are in school but are not learning very well.”

She said when a child is not learning very well in school, such child is likely to be dyslexic, but teachers lack the skills to know the signs, adding that the only cure is early intervention so that the brain could be reprogrammed towards learning.

The director said her centre has been training teachers who will assess the children and identify the signs of dyslexia, and that its volunteers also go to teach each child.

“The teachers don’t have specialist teaching knowledge, we bring them to the centre and do several trainings for them. At the end of which they will become experts that will then go into schools to work as specialist teachers. It provides an empowerment opportunity for them.”

Speaking on the awareness month, she said the centre will be conducting free training for public school teachers, adding that the more teachers are trained, the more children that would be helped to overcome the disorder.

“We are also developing an online programme so that people who are living far away could key into it and be certified to take care of children with dyslexia, and also partner with government so they can make a policy statement that would ensure that it becomes a train-the trainers programme and ensure a universal screening.”