Treat PWDs with dignity

The International Disability Alliance (IDA), in collaboration with the governments of Ghana and Norway, is running a two-day virtual summit, which started yesterday and expected to end today.

Described as the second Global Disability Summit, the event is on the theme ‘Investing in Inclusive Education to Reduce Social Inequalities’.

It aims to emphasise the importance of inclusive education for Persons With Disability (PWDs) and encourage all stakeholders to renew and operationalise their commitment to inclusive education by making sure that the learning by PWDs is fully included in all national and international development efforts.

Judging from how some societies and individuals discriminate against PWDs, it is worthy of note that President Nana Addo DankwaAkufo-Addo and the Norwegian Prime Minister (PM), Jonas GahrStøre, yesterday joined stakeholders from Ghana and Norway to make a case for the world to invest more in inclusive education to reduce inequalities among Persons with Disability (PWDs).

The President and the PM’s participation in the summit enhances the importance of the summit and as such should send the message round that no matter your status in society, matters concerning PWDs must concern you.

Some of these people were unfortunately born with the disability conditions while others suffered them later in life due to some diseases or accidents.

This should prompt everyone that misfortune can befall anyone and so those privileged to be free from it now must, at least, show love and empathy to these, while those who care more about them, individuals, groups and countries, should always do something to improve their lives.

To this end, the organizers of the Global Disability Summit must be given thumbs up for reminding the world of how critical it was that PWDs should not be left behind especially when it comes to education due to its importance.

Education kills ignorance and superstition; offers knowledge and skills and thus enhances the social status of people, including PWDs who embrace this philosophy.

In that case, the PWDs must be given the opportunity to attend the same school as others to portray the axiom that “disability is not inability” as some PWDs are academically better than their ‘fortunate’ mates.

Where PWDs are put in the mainstream schools, deliberate and critical efforts must be made to protect them from all manner of discrimination, stigmatisation and other challenges posed by mates and even teachers.

For instance, on May 14, 2021, the students of the Akropong School for the Blind demonstrated against happenings in the school and one of their grievances was an allegation that their headmistress had been insulting them over their disability.

It must be noted that due to the special conditions of some of the PWDs, special arrangements are made to provide them education in specialized schools like the school for the blind.

The problem in Ghana is probably the fact that the special schools are inadequate or due to superstition or the mentality that PWDs would amount to nothing, some of them are left out of education.

The result is that they grow to suffer worst situation. Therefore as the summit emphasizes all-inclusive education, the government should make the necessary efforts to get all PWDs to be in school, whether mainstream or the special ones.

It is instructive that it is not enough to have PWDs in school; all stakeholders, particularly the government, should provide their needs regularly in order to not give the slightest cause for these people to worry or sorrow.

It would be recalled, for example, that on October 23, 2016, the Headmistress of the Akropong School for the Blind, Ms. Mahela Narh, had to appeal for support from individuals and organisations in the upkeep of the pupils after receiving assorted food items from MAXXI Brand, a tyre manufacturing company, stressing that the school’s resources were not adequate to cater for the pupils, majority of whom are from poor homes.

It is the hope of the Ghanaian Times that this will not repeat itself in special schools

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