The Department of Special Education started from a humble beginning. The Department is one of the few Departments that have early existence with the fast growing vibrant University, the Kwara State University, Malete. Professor Abdul Rasheed Na' Allah, the pioneer Vice Chancellor, conceived the idea of having Special Education Department as one of the pioneering departments in the College of Education.
Professor Noah O. Oyedeji, the pioneer Provost of the College of Education, in November 2009, invited Dr. J.O. Olukotun, from the Department of Special Education, University of Ibadan, to prepare a proposal for the establishment of a Department of Special Education for special education programme as one of the teacher education programmes of the College of Education of the Kwara State University, Malete. A curriculum package was then developed by Dr. Olukotun, forwarded to the Vice Chancellor through the Provost, College of Education. On 16th June 2010. Dr. Olukotun fully joined the University as a Senior Lecturer to prepare the ground for the smooth take-off of the Department.
In line with his forward looking vision for creating a university with unique academic programmes for addressing the challenges in the nation's education, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Abdul Rasheed Na' Allah, invited a special education expert, Professor Linda Meloy, a Professor of Special Education from Western Illinois University, Quad-Cities, Moline, IL, USA to design the programme in tune with the practices of Special and Inclusive Education as being practiced internationally especially in the United States of America, Canada and United Kingdom. Professor Linda Meloy arrived at Kwara State University, Malete, on 25th October 2010. She, in company of Dr. Olukotun and Dr. Olorisade, went on visits to some public and private schools, State Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST), State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) in Ilorin, Federal College of Education (Special), Oyo and the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, to prepare an avenue for collaboration with Kwara State University. Professor Meloy submitted a working Paper, being the report of the 3 - week intensive assignment to the Vice Chancellor. Professor Linda Meloy left the University for the United States and returned in March 2011 for another 2- week rigorous assignment in the College of Education. The results of her two visits laid the solid foundation for the Department of Special Education in Kwara State University, Malete.
Professor Emmanuel Olaiya Aina, a Consultant on Early Childhood Education from California State University, Los Angeles, under whose proactive leadership as the Provost of the College of Education, made frantic efforts to ensure that the Department of Special Education together with one other department, the Department of Kinesiology, Health and Sport Science commenced in the Kwara State University, College of Education, during 2012/2013 academic session.
Consistent with the core values of the Kwara State University to offer unique academic programmes that intent on finding solutions to the many challenges of the Nigeria education system, the department's vision is to position itself as a unit of excellence in teaching, research and community services related to addressing the special needs of the diverse school pupils and their parents in the communities served by the Kwara State University.
The Department of Special Education, Kwara State University, is established as an academic unit to train specialist teachers with skills to cater for the special education needs and addressing barriers to learning of all pupils in schools. Graduates from the Department would be equipped with specialist skills for addressing Learning, Developmental and Behavioural disorders and for planning instructions and other intervention strategies for the inclusion of all learners in the school settings. In view of these the Department is, therefore, poised to share and collaborate with other departments of the College of Education, Kwara State University, in the creation of knowledge and offering of services through research and information dissemination in the discipline fields of special and inclusive education especially related to addressing barriers to learning and development. Further, the Department is fully committed to the ideals of scholarship which the University upholds, particularly in areas that expand the frontiers of knowledge in special education of individuals with disabilities (especially high incidence disabilities), thereby making the University one of the best in Nigeria and also a World Class university.
Kwara State University, Malete is aware of the high incidence disabilities - learning disabilities, emotional/behavioral disorders, attention deficit hyperactive disorders, autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities and other conduct disorders - impacting the education and well-being of upwards of eighty percent of school-aged children in public and private schools in Kwara State in particular, and Nigeria in general. Kwara State University, Malete, is also aware that the public, including teachers in primary, secondary, and tertiary schools, parents, and other relevant stakeholders in education, have little or no knowledge currently of these disabilities or the considerable research on the most productive instructional and behavioral intervention strategies that these learners need in order for them to reach their full intellectual, career, and personal potentials. Kwara State University, Malete, is, therefore, prepared to train teachers for all school settings, public and private, in order to address this critical educational needs for the state and as a model for the nation.
Although there were provisions for special education in the nation’s blueprint on education - the National Policy on Education 1977 (Revisions in 1981 and in 2004) - the training of teachers in this area has been primarily for low incidence disabilities affecting less than 5% of the school-aged population, i.e. hearing impairment, intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD and previously known as Mental Retardation, MR), Physical Disabilities, and Visual Impairment. Emphasis has not been placed on the special educational needs of the large numbers of children with barriers to learning due to developmental, emotional and behavioral disorders. The teacher training programmes of the nation’s educational institutions are not geared to preparing learning and behavioral specialists who can effectively address the unique needs of most school children and adolescents.
Kwara State University, Malete, through the Department of Special Education, will train specialist teachers who will work collaboratively with other education stakeholders in the identification of learners with special education needs and or barriers to learning as well as in the planning for appropriate instructional and other intervention strategies for addressing learning difficulties and or barriers to learning (associated with sensory and non-sensory impairments, intellectual disabilities and difficulties with reading, writing, or math skills) and for students with emotional/behavioral disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, bipolar disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and other disorders that interfere with the learning of the individual. Those education stakeholders currently include the State and Federal Ministries of Education, State Universal Basic Education Commission (SUBEB), Education Sector Support Programme in Nigeria (ESSPIN), Federal College of Education (Special) Oyo, NGOs, Health and Social workers in the communities).
The term “Special Education” is the practice of educating students with special needs by addressing their individual differences and needs. This process involves the individually planned and systematically monitored arrangement of teaching procedures, adapted equipment and materials, accessible settings, and other interventions designed to help learners with special needs achieve a higher level of personal self-sufficiency and success in school and community than would be available if the student were only given access to a typical classroom education. Common special needs include learning disabilities, communication disabilities, emotional and behavioral disorders, physical disabilities, and developmental disabilities. Learners with these kinds of special needs are likely to benefit from additional educational services such as different approaches to teaching, the use of technology, a specifically adapted teaching area, or a resource room.
Special Education programme also incorporates inclusive education. Inclusive education is an acknowledgement of the diversity in the school pupils and the provisions to ensure that all pupils irrespective of their differences are provided opportunities to achieve to their full potentials. Inclusive education incorporates the human rights principles of the right to equal educational opportunities for all, the discouragement of unfair discrimination and the ensuring that social justice in education prevails.
Therefore, the overall goal of the department is to prepare specialist teachers with special and inclusive education skills for the assessment and identification of special education needs and or barriers to learning as well as provision of both psychological and non-psychological interventions for addressing barriers to learning