Towards inclusive education: The sorry state of Cape Coast School for the Deaf, Blind
Persons with Disability (PWDs) have extraordinary talents, strength, character and determination to succeed as explicitly stated by the motto of the Cape Coast School for the Deaf and Blind: “Disability is not Inability.” Mr Abraham Annang Yemoson, the headmaster of the school, says many PWDs feel neglected and excluded from the opportunities for self improvement and wealth creation, leading to frustration that could plunge them into unwanted lifestyles. “Through the collective effort of all, we can improve the lives of young people who are blind or visually impaired under the principles of inclusive education.” “It is the utmost effective way to give all children a fair chance to go to school, learn and develop the skills they need to succeed,” he told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) during a visit to the school.
The school is strategically located between Aggrey Memorial Zion Senior High School and Ghana National College along the Cape-Coast -Takoradi Highway. It was established in 1970, with 15 students. Currently it has a population of 454 students. The hearing and visually impaired children of school going age benefit from the formal education it provides, with the latter using braille to read and orientated on mobility among other things, ready to be integrated into mainstream schools.
On its visit to the school, the GNA, came face-to-face with the poor and bumpy roads that hindered the free movement of the pupils/students, particularly the visually impaired, which the Headmaster said got worse whenever it rained.
“Some of our visually impaired students often report injuries because of the nature of our roads as they easily fall,” he said, weighing down their efforts to empower themselves through education.
The school uses prepaid meters in the classrooms, offices, and dormitories, therefore, whenever it was incapable to purchase credit, due to financial constraints, the students had to learn under dire circumstances and sleep in darkness.
The situation becomes unbearable for the hearing impaired students who rely on light to communicate in sign language. “This is pretty serious because they cannot do their assignments during prep time,” Mr Yemoson said.
Another major challenge is the inability of the teachers to use the embosser (printer for the blind) to emboss (print) reading materials for them.
Besides, many of the visually impaired students do not have the white canes to guide them to walk, having to struggle to find their way through the environment. Going forward, Mr Yemoson said it would be prudent for the school to be put back to post-paid meters to ensure continuous supply of electricity to enhance teaching and learning.
CLASSROOMS / TEACHING AIDS
For infrastructure, many of the school’s buildings had not seen renovations for years as students crammed in the classrooms. The Head teacher said the school needed teaching and learning aids such as laminator, Perkins braille machine, combo binder, packets of binding spiral and cubarism board.
Others are packets of pegs and braille sheets, writing slates (frames) stylus, talking calculators, talking books (tape recorders and white canes for orientation). It also needs laptops, headphones, mp3 players, smart phones, smart books, ipads and WiFi to enhance lessons in information and communication technology (ICT).
MEANS OF TRANSPORT
The School’s Mitsubishi truck, locally called “bone-shaker” had broken down beyond repairs. Currently, an old pick-up, old land cruiser and a 35-seater bus are supporting the transportation of students and facilitating administrative duties
USE OF WOOD AND CHARCOAL
The gas plant of the school broke down more than a decade ago but no solution has been found. The GNA observed that the beautiful green ambience that surrounds the school may be lost due to deforestation as the kitchen staff resort to cutting of trees for firewood to cook. Mr Yemoson said the wood burning pollutes the environment, while exposing the kitchen staff to asthma, chronic bronchitis, increased cancer risk, reduced immune function, and heart diseases. “We’re gradually losing the green scenery, and that’s very worrying,” he noted.
Mr Yemoson expressed worry over the long delays in the receipt of subvention and called on the Government to fast track its payment to facilitate quality care for the students.
He appealed to individuals and corporate institutions to support the visually impaired pupils/students with learning materials to enhance their studies.
International cultural troupe
On the brighter side of life, the institution has an enviable cultural troupe that meets international standards, which has toured most parts of the country to perform.
It is on record to have been the only troupe allowed to perform during the visit of President Bill Clinton of the United States of America.
Mr Yemoson pledged to galvanise all resources, human or otherwise, to “mend the broken bridges”. He said with strong optimism, support by stakeholders, and dedication to duty all the problems of the school would be confronted head-on for quality education and care. —GNA