UNICEF Highlights Plight Of Children With Disabilities

Mr Seidu Daana (second rigth) Minister of Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs lauching the 2013 state of the world's children report.Whiles Mrs Rosemond Blay (left) look on.The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Ghana, has launched ‘The State of the World’s Children’ report to bring attention and visibility to Ghanaian children living with disabilities.

As part of the launch, 23 portraits of children living with various forms of disability were exhibited to depict the character, strength; potential and charisma of Ghanaian children living with disabilities and the need for their inclusion in society to enable them reach their full potential.

The Country Representative of UNICEF Ghana, Susan Namondo Ngongi, said barriers that exclude children living with disabilities should be removed to ensure that children’s environment facilitate access and encourage participation of children with disabilities alongside their peers.

She noted that handicapped children, compared to their counterparts without disabilities, constitute the largest number of children who do not attend school, adding that, “getting more children with special needs into school remained critical if Ghana would be able to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of Universal Primary Education by 2015”.

“Data from the 2010 National Population Census show that children living with disabilities make up 20 per cent of the total population of persons living with disabilities. In real numbers, they are over 80,000 children,” she added.

Ms Ngongi said UNICEF recognises disabled children as children first before their disability, each with a potential to contribute to their community, therefore, to get them into school irrespective of their situation, UNICEF was partnering the Ghana government to improve access by promoting inclusive education.

“It does not matter what their disability is, their rights as children is the same as children without disability, and the cost to society when we don’t give them a chance is higher than the challenges they live with,” she said.

The Acting Director of the Department of Education at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Helena Obeng Asamoah, said the government, with support from UNICEF, has been in the process of coming up with a child protection policy.

She said the policy would address identified challenges in the current child protection system which has not been effective because of the incongruence between existing structures and traditions.

“As a ministry, we believe that children with disabilities should have opportunities that other children have. They are not different human beings. They are only different in what they are able to do and what they aren’t able to do,” she said.

The Minister for Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs, Henry Seidu Daana said his ministry was deliberating with the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection on how to deal with traditional beliefs and practices which infringe on the dreams of children with disabilities.

He called on the public to work together to make the future of the disabled child brighter. - Lucy Pomaa Arthur Ernestina Boateng

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