By Adonu Ifeanchukwu
More than 32 million Nigerians are suffering from a learning disability called dyslexia, which affects reading, spelling, writing and comprehension.
Chairman Board of Trustees, Dyslexia Foundation of Nigeria, Mr Ben Arikpo, told journalists in Abuja that one in every six students has dyslexia.
The situation makes the problem more endemic than autism which has only one victim in 80 persons.
He explained that dyslexia had become the most common learning disability in the country and elsewhere in the world as it was estimated that the problem affects 15 to 20 per cent of persons in any given population.
He regretted that despite the seriousness of the problem among children of school age, awareness had not been created for teachers to know how to handle children diagnosed with the condition.
According to him, lack of awareness among teachers, parents and peers have resulted in abuse of victims with the condition as they lose their self-esteem in the process and sometimes, drop out of school.
Arikpo, therefore, called on government to take over the task for training of teachers in primary and secondary school about dyslexia to correct the condition among students.
“Over 32 million Nigerians (in and out of school) face educational exclusion and negative life outcomes on account of dyslexia.
“It is possible to assume that the high number reported for out-of-school children in Nigeria is attributable to dyslexia.
“Worst still, the awareness, support systems and necessary accommodations for persons with dyslexia and related learning disorders are virtually non-existent in the Nigerian educational system,” he said.
He warned that “without identification and remediation, children and individuals with dyslexia are at risk of lifelong challenges along with the many negative social and economic consequences.”
“It is for this reason that the foundation has decided to mark the International Dyslexia Awareness Month with the 2nd National Conference on Dyslexia in Nigeria and a follow-up teachers’ training this October,” he said.
He said the conference which is slated for October 29 would discuss and advocate for policy frameworks to support persons with dyslexia in Nigeria, as well as launch the first handbook on dyslexia for schools, teachers and families.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Dyslexia Foundation of Nigeria was established in 2015 with the goal of creating awareness, providing remediation, training and support to people with dyslexia.
NAN also reports that dyslexia is a general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols, but that do not affect general intelligence. (NAN)