To ensure that the nation lived up to its slogan of “inclusive education for all”, government has been urged to create enabling environment for children living with disability to access quality education.
The Executive Director for Necessary Aid Alliance, a non-governmental organisation in Wa, Mr Mulumba Ngmenlabagna Songsore, who made the call indicated that existing special and mainstream schools had lots of challenges that did not give equal opportunities for the education of children living with disability.
“Some mainstream schools of higher learning have refused to admit students with special needs because they do not have the facilities and expertise to contain them whereas the few who get admitted are presented with myriad of challenges including access and usage of educational facilities,” he stated.
Mr Songsore stated this over the weekend at a programme organised by his outfit to interact with students living with disabilities as well as their parents and tutors on the challenges they faced in schools for the appropriate stakeholders to help address them.
The meeting forms part of a long term project by the organisation in partnership with Plan International, Ghana which has been christened, “Bridging educational and inequality gap” and concentrating on children with special needs.
Mr Songsore said although Ghana, like other African countries had assented to treaties such as the Millennium Development Goal on Universal Primary Education through the signing of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Salamanca Accord and most importantly an aspect of the 1992 Constitution that had been dedicated to the international commitment on World Declaration on Education for All (1990), not much consideration had been given to PWDs.
“Ghana expanded its Inclusive Education Programme from 29 districts to 46 in all 16 regions and also trained teachers on appropriate pedagogy to enable them work with children with special needs, however many of such children are either not in school or have dropped out of school because of disparity in resource distribution whereas the few in school are unable to learn appropriately,” he lamented.
He enumerated that inadequate teaching and learning materials such as braille and recorders, inadequate trained teachers with competence to handle such students, large class sizes, discrimination as well as limited access to mainstream schools of higher learning in the region were some of the reasons accounting for drop out cases amongst children with special needs.
He appealed to government to move beyond singing slogans on inclusive education and signing of international declarations to ensuring active implementation of policies to support such children.
A final year visually impaired student at the Wa Senior High School, Mohammed Osman lamented the lack of learning materials and said without their brailles, they were unable to concentrate on their lessons in class.
Mr Songsoree and his team presented each child with learning materials and a gallon of liquid soap as well as sanitary pads for the girls.
FROM LYDIA DARLINGTON FORDJOUR, WA