The future of people with Learning Disabilities in Nigeria


Dr Precious N. Sango

“What does the future hold for individuals with Learning Disabilities (i.e., Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities) in Nigeria?”

  • Awareness about LD is only starting to gain momentum in most African countries.
  • There is still a lot of stigma associated with LD, mainly due to lack of understanding of LD.
  • Most people with LD are not diagnosed and their families are not well informed about how to provide the necessary care and support for individuals with LD.

As such there is a lot to be done in terms of research, education, and awareness in order to improve the future prospects of both children and adults with LD in Nigeria. To this end the International School of Disability Studies (ISDS) aims to raise awareness through conferences and consultancy, establish resource libraries for research and offer workshops and postgraduate research programmes in Nigeria.

“What are the major legal, policy and practice issues facing Nigeria right now?”

In Nigeria the Nigerian with Disability Decree (1993)  has provisions for certain benefits such as free education, medical care, transport and housing for the disabled. The federal constitution 1999 also provides people with LD human rights and equal protection under the law. However, in practice none of these provisions have been implemented. People with LD continue to suffer discrimination, isolation, and deprived access to social benefits. As a highly religious society most Nigerians tend to be altruistic and so often consider people with LD as ‘charity cases’. On the other hand, some Nigerians tend to ascribe LD conditions to supernatural factors such as juju or voodoo. These misconceptions affect care provision for people LD within all sectors of society.

At the ISDS we aim to raise awareness about the spiritual, biological, social and psychological aspects of LD in order to create positive attitudes towards people with LD and improve care practices.

“How does the future of people with LD relate to the government in power?”

The current All Progressive Congress (APC) government in Nigeria does not have any policy or plan for people with LD in its manifesto. The president Muhamadu Buhari won the 2015 elections on the promise to fight corruption. As such the government appears to be prioritising the war on corruption and insecurity to the detriment of other important issues such as the plight of people with LD.

ISDS can draw government’s attention to LD issues and inform future government policy with cutting edge research by its members and associates.