Albinos in Africa are the most illiterate in the world

Albinos in Africa have been ranked the most illiterate individuals and find difficulties in getting admission into primary schools in their country.

Nichodem Hakizimana, a project officer at the Organisation of Integration and Promotion of People with Albinism said that many children with albinism do not access primary education because teachers do not know how to treat them.

She bemoan further that albinos in Africa, remain illiterate because the education system in Africa is not inclusive, and are socially marginalised leading to setbacks in their interactions.

“Many children with albinism do not access primary education because teachers do not know how to treat them. Albinos, for example, have low visual impairment and need to sit at the front in a classroom, but teachers do not consider that and some children end up going back home,” said Mr Hakizimana who is also teacher. “As a result of primary education exclusion many albinos remain illiterate; it is a serious problem.”

At a recent gathering in Kigali, local leaders from disabled persons organisations, their Ugandan counterparts and government representatives exchanged ideas on key rights and development issues, advocacy strategies and potential areas for collaboration.

“While the two countries have guaranteed rights of persons with disabilities in their respective constitutions, there is still a huge struggle towards the full realisation of rights and inclusion by persons with disabilities,” said Jean Damascene Nsengiyumva, the executive secretary of the National Union of Disability Organisations in Rwanda.

According to Nsengiyumva, “Within families, albinos are being marginalised by their husbands and other relatives resulting into divorces. When the newborn is an albino the couple separate because the husband considers it a curse in the family arguing that such traits do not exist in his lineage,”

Rights organisations cite albinos and disabled women as being among the most marginalised groups in Africa.

Similarly The Albino Foundation (TAF) in Nigeria has rated Nigeria as one of the countries with the highest albino population in the world.

Mr Jake Epelle, TAF President, said in Abuja that various research reports and publications strengthen this claim.

According to him, people living with albinism in Nigeria are estimated to be two million with children constituting about 40 percent of this population.

The president of the foundation said the absence of social welfare services in Nigeria had made livelihood difficult for children with special needs such as those with albinism.

“There is no official framework to provide social welfare services, education and health support for the children Ekpelle lamented.

“Many of them are not in school, not because of their mental disability but because of visual impairment, discrimination and social exclusion due to their skin color he pointed out.