2 November 2017

Nigeria: Israel Mulls Partnership With Zamarr Institute On Education for Special Needs Children

Abuja — The Government of Israel has expressed its interest to do consider a partnership for with Nigeria for training of teachers for the education of children with autism and other special needs.

The move, according to the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Israel in Abuja, Nadav Goren, is part of efforts at expanding relations with Nigeria and also in contributing to development of humanity, and is coming at a time stakeholders are lamenting government's neglect of the education of children with special needs.

Goren made the disclosure when he, in company of a staff of the Sheeba Medical Centre in Israel, visited the Zamarr Institute/Centre for Children with Special Education Needs in Abuja.

He said the purpose of the visit was to personally assess the facility with a view to collaborating with the Institute in the area of capacity building.

"I came here as an initial visit to see what this is all about and it's not only important to see what is being done but to have a good partner on the other side. I am interested to explore more to see which government agency is in charge because as an embassy we have to also interact with the government player who is in charge of this area.

"There are a lot of details we need to trash out, but definitely this is something that is worthy to put efforts into and collaborate.

"It's a beautiful work being done with a lot of compassion. I'm not a professional in this area but I think like in a lot of areas of cares; medical and other areas, Israel is very innovative and I think there is a lot to learn in the area of capacity building and training and I think we are on the same page in this area", he said.

The envoy stated that Israel like other country has an aid agency to support development in other countries but unlike other nations her aid agency specialises in helping other nations build capacity. He said the Israeli aid organisation which is called Mashav specialises in building capacity as well as providing necessary training for education of children with special needs.

Also speaking, a Dance Movement Therapist in a Child Developmental Centre in Sheeba Centre in Israel, Inbal Goren, emphasised the need to equip handlers of children with special needs with the right skills.

"This children at times can't communicate what they are feeling or what they need, and then someone who has the right skill and right sensitivity can pick up what they are trying to say and translate them to the world or translate the world to the children and then help them express themselves and learn skills that are important in communication with other people and other children", she said.

She expressed excitement to see that there is a place for the education of autism children in Nigeria and urged the government and other Nigerians to support the Zamarr Institute as well as other centres caring for children with special needs.

Executive Director of the Zamarr Institute, Oluronke Katagum, described Israel as one of the leading countries and a role model to many countries in attending to children with special needs, hence the need for the collaboration.

She disclosed that she visited Israel last year to explore opportunities that would benefit the organisation to elevate the standard of special education, caregiving and up-to-date approaches for children with special needs in Nigeria.

Katagum said though education of children with special needs is new in Nigeria, government's failure to genuinely support the field has deprived a lot of children with special needs from getting education.

"Zamarr is trying to partner the Israeli government because they have in their scheme some sort of support to assist other countries that need to learn how to tackle such issues. Basically we are looking for support for training from Marshad, we are already talking to the FCT to give us a bigger space to provide the best for the children. If we get all the expertise from out there particularly from Israel we hope to build a world class centre that would cater for children with special needs", she said.

She also called on the government to establish a functional centre for education of children with special needs across the six geopolitical zones, adding that majority of such children are from the less privileged who are not able to afford the fees charged by private centres.

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