In a remarkable and forward-thinking initiative, the British High Commission in Nigeria has recently announced its decision to extend the prestigious Chevening scholarship to Persons Living With Disabilities (PWDs) for the 2024/2025 academic year. This groundbreaking move is aimed at fostering fairness and equal access to education, aligning with international conventions that advocate for inclusivity and diversity. The Deputy Commissioner of the British High Commission in Nigeria, Gill Atkinson, unveiled this exciting development during a presentation held in Abuja, where she emphasized the profound significance of this initiative.
A Shared Vision of Cooperation
The Chevening scholarship program has long been a beacon of hope for aspiring scholars worldwide. It represents a harmonious collaboration between the governments of the United Kingdom and Nigeria, primarily focusing on enriching the field of education and promoting inclusivity in society. Gill Atkinson, in her address, underscored the depth of cooperation achieved through the Chevening program, particularly in the education sector, and the central role PWDs now play in this collaborative effort.
She emphasized, “Chevening is designed not to discriminate against any particular group of people but to give them the opportunities to study, meet their passions, and bring those skills and experiences that they have discovered and developed back to Nigeria.”
Empowering Nigeria’s Brightest Minds
The decision to extend Chevening scholarships to PWDs is rooted in a deep-seated desire to empower Nigeria’s brightest minds, regardless of their physical abilities. Atkinson passionately stated, “The reason we are doing this is to help Nigeria’s brightest and best take their country forward. We really want to see young Nigerians equipped to move their country forward.”
This move reflects the UK government’s commitment to viewing PWDs as individuals with immense potential and unique abilities. Atkinson firmly believes that “Persons with disabilities cannot be left out because they also have a lot to impact on society which is why the inclusion.”
Recognizing Hidden Talents
Oluwafunmilayo Ladepo, the Chevening Programme Officer in Nigeria, elaborated on the deeper purpose behind including PWDs in the program. She noted, “We are not giving PWDs opportunities solely because of their disabilities but because they possess abilities that many have overlooked due to their disability.”
Ladepo shared a heartening success story: “We have someone from the previous set who is a Journalist with Visual impairment who completed his Masters program and got an internship with BBC because of his ability and intelligence, and he will be back after his internship to contribute to the media.”
This narrative illustrates how the Chevening scholarship program is not just about providing financial support but also about recognizing and nurturing exceptional talents within the PWD community.
A History of Inclusivity
Since 2014, the UK government has been actively including Persons with Disabilities as beneficiaries of the Chevening scholarship program. Over the years, approximately forty-seven PWDs have been granted this life-changing opportunity. This significant number reflects a growing commitment to fostering inclusivity and diversity in education and society at large.
Seizing the Opportunity
As the Chevening Programme Officer in Nigeria, Ladepo urged aspiring PWD scholars to seize this remarkable opportunity. She encouraged them to apply for the 2024 session to the UK institutions listed on the Chevening site, emphasizing the importance of meeting the application deadline.
Gratitude and Aspirations
The Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, Mr. James Lalu, expressed heartfelt appreciation to the U.K government for including Persons with Disabilities in the Chevening scholarship program. Lalu, represented by Dr. Adebayo Adebukola, recognized the immense potential this opportunity holds, and he eagerly anticipates more PWDs benefitting from it.
In conclusion, the British High Commission’s decision to extend Chevening scholarships to Persons with Disabilities is a testament to their commitment to inclusivity, diversity, and the recognition of untapped talents within the PWD community. This groundbreaking initiative is set to change lives, empower individuals, and contribute significantly to the betterment of Nigeria’s society.