A whopping ninety-eight per cent of teachers in Nigeria do not know about Dyslexia, despite it being the most common learning disability that makes it difficult learning to read, says Dr Adrienne Tikolo, Director of Dyslexia Nigeria.
Speaking at the launch of Dyslexia Nigeria’s office in GRA, Ikeja, Lagos recently, Dr Tikolo, an educationist, said as a result, many pupils with dyslexia go undiagnosed and struggle to read all their lives.
“I have been teaching longer than 30 years and in those years I have found several children that just find it difficult to read. Reading was always a problem. And when we applied fully all the methods that are used and all the reading/phonics programme it didn’t work. Something has to be done. Dyslexia was discovered to be the problem. My search took me to several places in Nigeria and other areas in West Africa. As a matter of fact, 98 per cent of teachers in Nigeria have never heard of this word,” she said.
Mrs Tikolo said there are children with Dyslexia, a neurobiological condition characterized by “difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition, and by poor spelling and decoding abilities”, in every classroom.
If teachers were trained to identify the learning difficulty, which affects up to 20 per cent of every population, early, Dr Tikolo said more children would be captured for early intervention programmes and be saved a lifetime of underachievement.
“Teachers will find dyslexics in every class. A child that is dyslexic cannot distinguish between P and Q. The child could speak so well but when it comes to exams, will not perform. Research has shown that 70 per cent of children in Remand Homes are dyslexic. They simply fall out of school; they cannot continue. They will continue to take drugs; they fall into depression. They know these things but no one is giving them a chance to say it.
“Without intervention, we will have some of these live long problems for the individual. One, of course, will be school failure, depression, delinquency; they will run away from school. They don’t want to read.”
With most dyslexics not doing well without intervention, Dr Tikolo said Dyslexia Nigeria would advocate early intervention programmes which happens between ages zero and eight years.
She said the organisation would train teachers, parents and others; screen children and teenagers and adults; offer screening and support services to schools; design intervention programmes for dyslexics, and serve as a resource shop for dyslexic materials.
Making a case for increased diagnoses and ‘treatment’ of dyslexia Mrs Tikolo said: “First let me say that dyslexia comes with great strength. The fact that you use the right side of your brain means you are very creative. Dyslexics can think outside the box. They can see the end result before you can. They are thinkers on their feet. They are very good in the art, engineering and stuffs like that. Many of the inventors of our time are dyslexics. Even now our best brains are struggling through school because of the way we teach them.”