The Ghana Educational System and a child with special educational needs

Feature Article The Ghana Educational System and a child with special educational needs
JAN 28, 2022 LISTEN

Kelvin’s teacher reached out to the Special Mothers Project, an organization that engages in advocacy for children with cerebral palsy and other disabilities.

He had a concern, the school is not ready to register Kelvin for the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), Kelvin, has been in the school since infancy and has always been promoted to the next class with his peers

Kelvin, though very intelligent and able to answer questions orally is unable to write, this has to do with his disability.

Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects the part of the brain that coordinates movement. Most persons living with cerebral palsy have challenges with movement.

Signs and symptoms vary among people and over time, but include poor coordination, stiff muscles, weak muscles, and tremors. There may be problems with sensation, vision, hearing, and speaking. Often, babies with cerebral palsy do not roll over, sit, crawl or walk as early as other children of their age. Other symptoms may include seizures

Kelvin is affected mostly with the hands and he is unable to write even though he demonstrates remarkable intelligence.

Kelvin’s case is not unique, many parents with children who have special educational needs will attest to the fact that it is very difficult getting their children into the regular educational stream.

Most schools do not know how to handle such children and most teachers are fixated on just academics to the detriments of other talents and inborn skills that a child with special educational needs may have.

Adwoa Okorewaa, a mother of a nine-year-old girl with cerebral palsy sharing her experience said, “I wanted my daughter to go to school not necessarily to achieve academic laurels but her time away in school could offer me some respite, away from caregiving.

Being in school was also an opportunity to build her social interaction skills, get her to know people, especially her peers and learn a few things that are not taught in books; however, some teachers are antagonistic to the idea of a child with special educational needs getting into mainstream education.

The Ghana Educational Service in the year 2015 launched the Inclusive Education Policy to redefine and recast the delivery and management of educational services to respond to the diverse needs of all learners within the framework of universal design for learning and child friendly school concept.

The policy includes all children with special needs including those with disabilities, however, most schools even the public schools supposed to be implementing these policies seem unfriendly to children with special educational needs

Ms Okorewaa says, “I have seen children with disabilities gifted with so much skills and talent but are left untapped and not harnessed because of our educational system that really excludes children with disabilities.

The Ghana Educational Service (GES) in conjunction with the Ghana National Association of Teachers has in recent times developed a new standard-based curriculum. The GES new curriculum is drawn on best practices all over the globe and is to be utilized by educators in basic schools all over Ghana.

The curriculum, according to the GES, intends to provide students with skills, both soft and hard, to allow them to navigate the modern world and the inherent challenges.

“Teachers will be tasked to go more in-depth, considering the reduced learning areas. Lower and upper primary subjects are going to be as before. However, the curriculum proposes fewer concepts that have more depth for every idea. The new system places more focus on proper literacy and numeracy as they are the pillars of all advanced studies.

The GES new curriculum is standard-based, meaning that every student or learner ought to demonstrate competency and mastery of knowledge. All students (P2, P4 and P6) will undergo a mandatory assessment to check and track their performance.

Ms Okorewaa however, said I don’t know how they are going to assess my child; my child does not speak clearly and does not use the hands to write efficiently, how does my child fit into this whole educational system?

She proposed an alternative where children with special educational needs can move along with their peers in school but are assessed in the most suitable ways and are supported to fit into the job market.

Some teachers that the writer spoke to with regards to the new curriculum admitted that the new curriculum seems to be more friendly towards a child with special educational needs, however, some also admits that not all teachers are willing to embrace the changes that involves making children with special educational needs the centre of our educational goals to the benefit of all.

Ms Okorewaa said, it also seems that there is no efficient monitoring system to check teachers who refuse to comply with the new educational changes.

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