By Funmi Ogundare
Experts and practitioners from public and private schools, state ministry of education, corporate organisations, among others, recently converged on the Radisson Blu, Ikeja for the first annual Africa dyslexia dialogue with the theme ‘Unmasking Dyslexia, Dyslexia, Inclusion and the Future of School and Work’.
The eye opening programme saw the experts sharing and exploring how best to raise public awareness on dyslexia, as well as identifying and managing the learning challenge, especially among young children.
In his remarks, the Director, School Registration, Lagos State Ministry of Education, Mr. Martins Opeyemi, said he had not heard of Dyslexia prior to attending the programme.
The convener of the programme, Dr. Adrienne Tikolo said it was imperative for Nigerians to discuss how to educate dyslexics to live more fulfilled lives.
“This is the reality of dyslexia and this is why it is important for us to talk about it and to address it. Twenty per cent of every population is affected by dyslexia; that’s about 36 million Nigerians. If we look, we will find at least 15 people in this room on the dyslexic spectrum and even more in our families, schools and workplaces.”
Panelists at the programme including a public health expert, Dr. Ronke Agoro, shared their dyslexic experience and how passing through the conventional school system was tough.
Agoro, who had to take UTME six times to get into the university but failed, said she attempted suicide.
“I failed JAMB six times, but I was teaching others who passed. I attempted suicide. It was a cousin who advised me to leave JAMB and do other things. I learnt to sew and so many other things,” she said, adding that she could do nine PhDs but still cannot pass JAMB.
“If I had my way, I would scrap JAMB. I cannot do exams that have ABCD because my brain is wired differently. My memory does not process things that way.”
A Psychology student at the Redeemers University, Osun state, Miss Oladoyin Idowu, 20, also once attempted suicide after failing pre-medical school at the University of Ibadan (UI). A According to her, she thought she was dumb until she found out that she was dyslexic.
“I dropped out of school struggling with dyslexia. I did not even know it was dyslexia. I just knew I was different from every other student. I could not accept what people were saying; like maybe I was actually dumb. Nobody could understand what I was going through.
“One day I was thinking of what to do with my life I decided to tap into Google. It brought out articles about students who think they are dumb. And then I came across an article that talked about many difficulties like autism and the likes. So knowing dyslexia was the beginning of finding solutions and doing research.”
The Chief Executive Officer of Closerlook Caregiver Foundation, Mrs. Oluwarantimisirere Oyesiji said she discovered that she was dyslexic in 2016 when she was 43, adding that before then, she had spent frustrating time in school and even in the work environment.
“When I was in primary three, my teacher said I should be demoted to primary one because of my bad handwriting. My parents were invited but on questioning me, the head teacher said I was brilliant, why would they want to put me back.
“I had to put in more than every other person to pass. I had coping skills in school which helped me to pass. But when I got to work, it was something else. I could re-write a letter 20 times. When asked to describe me at work, someone said I was annoyingly slow,” she said.