The Vice-President, Mr John Mahama, Monday launched an ICT programme in Accra which seeks to train 5,000 persons living with disabilities (PWDs) in the assembling and repairs of mobile phones and computers.
Known as the Persons with Disability ICT Project, the beneficiaries would be deployed to the 45 training centres of the Institute of Technology of the rlg Communications spread across the regional and district capitals where they would be provided with the best hands-on ICT training expected to commence in January, 2012.,
The launch, which was on the theme: “Equipping Persons with Disability with ICT Skills for Today’s World”, brought together PWDs and other allied groups at the Accra International Conference Centre.
Giving a background to the programme, Mr Mahama said Cabinet in October, this year, approved a memorandum to collaborate with rlg Communications, a local ICT firm, to embark on the training programme which would last six months.
The objective, he explained, was to build the capacity of PWDs in order to empower them to secure sustainable jobs.
Provisional estimates of the 2011 Population and Housing Census put the number of PWDs at 4.2 million, representing 20 per cent of the population for which reason the government found it prudent to conceive a programme to develop the capacities of PWDs to contribute their quota to national development.
The Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare (MESW) has nine vocational and rehabilitation centres where PWDs are trained in various skills such as basket weaving and wood work, which vocations the Vice-President indicated were not modernised thus the decision to add value to their skills through ICT.
As a demonstration of the government’s commitment to the welfare of the physically challenged, Mr Mahama said Cabinet had given approval for the increase of the District Assembly Common Fund allocated to PWDs from two to three per cent with guidelines in place for the disbursement of the funds.
“The establishment of the National Disability Council in the early days of the government is in fulfillment of our manifesto promise as a social democratic government,” he added.
Mr Mahama, who was not enthused about the failure of institutions to comply with the Disability Act that enjoins institutions to provide walk ways that allows PWDs easy access to such institutions directed organisations not to issue building permits for the construction of public buildings that did not comply with the law.
The MESW is partnering with rlg Communications, the ministries of Communication and Information and the Local Enterprise and Skills Development Programme (LESDEP) of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to implement the Disability ICT Project.
The government is expending GH¢21,741,000 on the project of which rlg Communications would absorb GH¢1,983,000.
The Minister of Employment and Social Welfare, Mr E.T. Mensah, earlier in his welcoming remarks, said Ghana could not claim to be advancing sustainable human resource development when PWDs who constituted a large percentage of the population were left out.
According to him, the government owed a constitutional and moral duty to them to ensure they got their fair share of the “Better Ghana Agenda” and expressed gratitude to rlg Communications for its financial and material support as well as the Ministries of Communications, Education and Environment, Science and Technology and the Disability Council for their support.
The Chief Executive of rlg Communications, Mr Roland Agambire, told the PWDs that ICT which was changing the world had come to stay.
For him, disability was not inability or a dysfunction and recalled a number of personalities including former UK Home Secrertary, David Blanket and former US President Franklyn Roosevelt who were respectively blind and crippled.